18.07.1942 No 18 Squadron Blenheim IV Z7304 P/O. Philip Lowther
Operation: Air Test
Date: 18th July 1942 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 18 Squadron
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Location: Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk
Pilot: P/O. Philip Henry Lowther 104490 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Observer: Sgt. Kenneth Custance Ellis 1259306 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
W/Op/Air/ Gnr: Sgt. George Bernard Crawford 1178840 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Passenger: Mr Kenneth Tagg Civilian Meteorologist Age 18. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
During an air test and flying in poor visibility the Blenheim IV crashed into a radar pylon at Stoke Holy Cross (Poringland, Norwich) at 15.00 hrs.
Also it is thought that the pilot had an earlier narrow escape flying a 1444 FTF Hudson during a spectacular crash landing at Arminghall, Norfolk. Amazing in that Sgt. Crawford survived a crash of another Blenheim IV Z7283 earlier that year on 9th June at 00.15 hrs. during a night training exercise. (1)
Mr Kenneth Tagg a Civilian Meteorologist accompanied the flight for some air experience. He is buried in Norwich, but very sadly he does not have a headstone, neither is he listed by the CWGC as a civilian casualty?
After extensive research a local man Mr Derek Bales arranged a memorial to the crew at the crash site and as it still belonged to the RAF they finally gave permission for it to be placed at the foot of the Pylon. Derek contacted the Aircrew Remembered to inform us of this memorial and we offered to place it on our website in recognition of his fine work. Derek Bales lives in Stoke Holy Cross and also witnessed the crash back in 1942.
(1) Blenheim IV Z7283 Flown by Sgt. John Kenneth Jones and his observer Sgt. Herbert Dawson were killed when one of the engines began to misfire and Sgt. Jones ordered the crew totable out but as the aircraft was now below 1000 ft. Sgt. Dawson decided to remain in the aircraft and risk a forced landing - Sgt. Crawford complied however and he survived jumping when the aircraft was only at 750 ft. landing in a tree with nothing more than a sprained left ankle and of course, suffering from shock.
The aircraft eventually crashed at 00.15 hrs at Hough-on-the-Hill into a cottage killing the two crew members and also 72 year old Mr John Ayto and his 70 year old wife, Annie Sophia Ayto who lived in the cottage.
P/O. Philip Henry Lowther. Bideford Public Cemetery. Sec B. Grave 159. Son of John Henry and Mary Louisa Lowther, of Bideford, England.
Grave shown right (courtesy Glenn Christodoulou)
Sgt. Kenneth Custance Ellis. Comberton (St. Mary) Churchyard. Son of Bernard William and Florence Hilda Ellis, of Comberton, husband of Doris Irene Ellis, of Cambridge, England.
Sgt. George Bernard Crawford. Brookwood Military Cemetery 24.B.10. Known to be from Redruth, Cornwall - worked in a department store in Plymouth. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Mr Kenneth Tagg. Norwich Cemetery (pictured left)
- unmarked grave! No further details, but thought to have lived in Wattisham having recently moved from West Rainham but originated from Catford, London.
Researched with the assistance of Derek Bales for the relatives of the crew. Acknowledgments, to the following: Derek Bales, Glenn Christodoulou for grave photo, sent in to us in September 2017, Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses".