30.01.1944 No. 22 Operational Training Unit Wellington III DF566 F/O. Matthews
Date: 30th January 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 22 OTU (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Wellington III
Code: Not issued
Base: RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire
Location: North Farm, Ladbroke, Warwickshire
Pilot: F/O. Lionel Wollaston Matthews DFM. J/17198 RCAF Age 23. Killed
Pilot 2: F/O. Gordon Henry Schlitt J/12768 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Nav: F/O. Clarence Walter Pearce J/27424 RCAF Age 29. Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. Edward Addy Davis J/28949 RCAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Arthur Nichols R/104146 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Allen Hobson R/222664 RCAF Age 18. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Carlin Anthony Bannon R/203391 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 19:24 hrs. from RAF Wellesbourne Mountford for bombing practice. The aircraft was being flown by a very experience screened pilot, F/O. Matthews.
Detailed to carry out a dual night bombing exercise on the local bombing range at Priors Hardwick. After 2/3 minutes the pilot called requesting permission to bomb.
After only 6 minutes another crew flying on the same course and same height of 4000 ft. reported seeing a Wellington on fire in the air. Shortly afterwards the aircraft dived steeply and crashed and exploded at North Farm, Ladbroke at 19:31 hrs.
There was no evidence that the crew had attempted to bale out. The investigation concluded that the rear master rod piston on the port engine failed causing a total break up of the rear cylinders causing a fire to outbreak at the rear of the engine. The intensity of the fire was probably due to oil escaping from the feathering pipe which may have been broken by the break up of the engine. The fire spread underneath the nacelle and exploded the nacelle petrol and fuel tanks.
The fact that the experienced pilot had not feathered the defective engine may have been due to the rapid break up of that engine and control equipment damaged.
F/O. Lionel Wollaston Matthews - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.150 Squadron - Award effective 17 March 1943 as per London Gazette dated 13 April 1943 and AFRO 809/43 dated 7 May 1943. Enlisted Calgary 5 May 1941. Trained at No.4 ITS (graduated 29 August 1941), No.5 EFTS and No.10 SFTS (graduated 16 January 1942). Medal presented at Buckingham Palace 18 May 1943:
"This airman has completed 31 operational sorties over Germany, Italy and Tunisia. He has invariably pressed home his attacks with courage and determination and has obtained many excellent photographs. On one occasion, when taking part in an operation over Sicily, his aircraft sustained damage and his rear gunner received wounds which subsequently proved fatal. Sergeant Matthews brought his damaged aircraft back safely, landing with his wounded comrade at an aerodrome where hospital attention was available."
Matthews Lake was named after the pilot.
Front L-R: Gordon Henry Schlitt, C.E. Luke, Joseph Arthur Horsefall, G.I. Ranson. Rear: T. Goldring, D.R. Adamson, S.W. Bridges.
Photographs of the crew graves are available for relatives.
F/O. Lionel Wollaston Matthews DFM. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4211. Son of Shirley M. Matthews and Maude A. Matthews, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
F/O. Gordon Henry Schlitt. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4212. Son of Henry P. Schlitt and Agnes Elizabeth Schlitt, of Camrose, Alberta, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Proud To Serve”.
F/O. Clarence Walter Pearce. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4190. Son of Walter W. Pearce and Letitia Pearce, of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada and husband of Grace M. Pearce, of St. Catharines. Grave inscription reads: "God Is Love".
P/O. Edward Addy Davis. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4191. Son of Edward M. Davis and Mary Catherine Davis and husband of June Anita Davis, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "The Summer Sea Was Ours".
Sgt. Frederick Arthur Nichols. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4192. Son of John M. Nichols and Vera V. Nichols, of Belmont, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "In Proud And Loving Memory Of Our Dear Son Who Died The Helpless To Defend; A Faithful Airman's Noble End".
Sgt. William Allen Hobson. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4193. Son of Wilbert Vinton Hobson and Emiline Elvira Hobson, of Rochester, Alberta, Canada.
Sgt. Carlin Anthony Bannon. Stratford-On-Avon Cemetery Grave. 4210. Son of John P. Bannon and Catherine Bannon, of 64 Kingsway Crescent, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord; And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him".
With thanks to Francois Dutil for photographs and details of the accident.