20.04.1945 19 OTU Wellington X LP760 Fg.Off. Matthews
Operation: Training - Cross Country flight
Date: 20th April 1945 (Friday)
Unit: 19 Operational Training Unit (OTU), "C" Flight
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Kinloss, Scotland
Location: Bank Head farm, Humbie, Scotland.
Pilot: Fg.Off. Aubrey Glyndwr Matthews 153043 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Nav: Fg.Off. Edward Rawlinson 166236 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Nav 2: Fg.Off. Robert Edward Williams J46275 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air Bmr: Sgt. Vivian Peter Dias 605691 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Daniel Pulham 1896217 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. William Gourlay 1825511 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Take off at 11:52 hrs from RAF Kinloss in Scotland for a cross-country flight.
Shortly afterwards at 12:40 hrs. it was to end in scenes of devastation in the vicinity of Bank Head farm, Humbie, some eight miles SSW of Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland.
Eye witnesses report that the Wellington was cruising at some 5,000 feet when the overcast sky was lit by a flash, followed by an explosion.
Above left: Sgt. Vivian Peter Dias, Right: Fg.Off. Robert Edward Williams.
Debris rained down and accident investigators concluded that the outer section of the starboard wing had sheared away.
It was the last fatal accident for 19 OTU in five years of operational training.
On the F1180 Aircraft Accident card, it states- “The pilot probably lost control in turbulent cloud due to not being strapped in”. This statement does not support the eyewitness reports of an explosion at the time.
The casualty notification, from the Air Ministry, sent to the father of Fg.Off. Williams detailed that the Wellington completely disintegrated near Humbie, east Lothian in Scotland on the 20th April 1945 at 12:40 hrs. The aircraft was on a cross-country training flight at the time. The bodies of five crew were removed to RAF Station East Fortune. It describes that the starboard outer wing sheared off at 5000 ft after a flash and dull explosion centred over a 3 miles area. The funeral of Fg.Off. Williams was to be on the 23rd April 1945 at 14:00 hrs at Haddington Cemetery in East Lothian.
Fg.Off. Aubrey Glyndwr Matthews. Mortlake Cemetery, Hammersmith. Plot 14.Section C Grave 91. Son of Mr and Mrs J J Matthews and husband of Eileen Matthews of West Kensington, London, England
Fg.Off. Edward Rawlinson. Horwich Churchyard (Holy Trinity), Manchester. Grave 42. Son of Theodore and Maud Rawlinson of Horwich, Manchester, England.
Fg.Off. Robert Edward Williams. Haddington, New Burial Ground (St.Martins), East Lothian, Scotland. Section E, Grave 31. Born 9th August 1924 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Son of David Robert and Miriam Ada (née Beaumont) Williamsof Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Vivian Peter Dias. Haddington Roman Catholic Graveyard, East Lothian, Scotland. Section M, Grave 18. Son of Vivian Charles and Cecily Alice (nee Benbow) Dias of Georgetown, Demerara, British Guyana. Vivian’s father was Portuguese and worked as a solicitor while his mother was from Staffordshire, England. He had three younger sisters and he attended a Roman Catholic boarding school in England.
Sgt. John Daniel Pulham. Dover Cemetery (St.James) Section FR, Grave 32. Known as Jack he was the son of Edward Stanley and Sarah Louisa Pulham of Dover, England.
Further information on Sgt. John D. Pulham is available from the Dover War Memorial Project - our thanks to Maggie from this fine memorial website.
Sgt. William Gourlay. Haddington Roman Catholic Graveyard, East Lothian, Scotland. Section E, Grave 33. Son of William and Eileen Firth Gourlay of Patrick West, Glasgow, Scotland.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits and family information on Sergeant Dias to his niece, Vivien Smith. With thanks to Malcolm Stewart for correction of village name - December 2016. Thanks also to David Champion who submitted the crash site photographs - December 2016. Thanks to John Hamilton for providing the notification of casualty for Fg.Off. Williams (Jan 2021).