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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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12 Squadron Crest
16/17.08.1941 No. 12 Squadron Wellington II W5444 PH-T Fl/Lt. Charles N. McVeigh

Operation: Köln Germany

Date: 16/17th August 1941 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 12 Squadron

Type: Wellington MkII

Serial: W5444

Code: PH-T

Base: RAF Binbrook

Location: Briston, 8 miles ENE of Fakenham, Norfolk

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Charles Norman McVeigh AFC. MiD x 2. 40243 RCAF Age 22. Survived - injured

2nd Pilot: P/O. Bernard Montague Jeffrey Vincent 63824 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. Edward Horatio Nancarrow 564733 RAF Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George William Mclntosh Purslow DFC. 52716 RAFVR Age 21.  Survived - injured

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Colin George Charles Frost 747744 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Danny Murray RAF Survived - injured

REASON FOR LOSS: 

Taking off from RAF Binbrook at 21:35 hrs.

Crashed at 01:30 hrs. while making an emergency landing at Biston, 8 miles ENE of Fakenham, Norfolk, during which the Wellington smashed into a bridge.

Crew of Wellington W5444 L-R: Sgt Jock Purslow, Fl/Sgt. Nancarrow, P/O. Vincent, Fl/Lt. McVeigh, Sgt. Murray, Sgt. Frost.  (courtesy Steve Moseley)

Cause of the emergency which occurred on the homebound leg, engine damage - ran out of fuel. The injured were admitted to the Norwich and Norfolk General Hospital. Fl/Lt. Charles McVeigh suffered a severe broken leg and remained in hospital until 5th May 1942. (Retired as a Wing Commander 23rd July 1965 - AFC. MiD. X 2)

Statement of Sgt. Purslow (Later awarded the DFC): On the night of the 16th August 1941 we were over Cologne when the starboard engine was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and from then on our troubles started aboard the crippled plane.

Gradually we were losing height and eventually we were over the north sea on one engine. (Praise be that we were not flying in a Fairey Battle which only started out with one engine!)

I sent out an SOS and by the time we made landfall over Norwich we were flying just above the city and “Mac” the pilot was wrestling with the controls. 

The search lights were helping us by “pointing” to the nearest aerodrome and by this time we were in the countryside crashing through telephone lines, electric lines etc, as the remaining engine was losing power. At last “Mac” saw lights and thought it was an aerodrome but it was signal lights on the railway signals - then we hit a railway bridge at Briston in Norfolk.

Three of the crew were killed and three of us landed in hospital. What we did not know at the time was that we might have been able to make a successful landing if our ‘two thousand’ bomb had not been “hung up” due to an electrical fault and we had carried it all the way back to England.

Fortunately for us it didn’t explode when we eventually crashed. In 1987 he visited the scene of the crash with the pilot, W/Cdr. McVeigh.

Plaque placed by Briston Parish Council in October 2014 (courtesy Richard Flagg)

Burial details:

P/O. Bernard Montague Jeffrey  Vincent. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 25.B.19. Son of Montague and Marjorie Vincent, of Yeovil, Somerset, England.

Fl/Sgt. Edward Horatio Nancarrow. Portsmouth Cemetery (Milton). Plot X. Row 8. Grave 20. Son of Horatio and Alice Nancarrow, of Fratton, Portsmouth, England, husband of Gertrude Nancarrow.

Fl/Sgt. Colin George Charles Frost. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 25.B.19. Son of Harold Joseph George and Mary Frost, of Polesworth, Warwickshire. Born on 12th March 1920 - joined in April 1939 and initially trained at RAF Redhill during week-ends. Completed 25 operations by the time of his loss.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered July 2015. With thanks to Steve Moseley for crew photo, Richard Flagg for memorial photograph. Grave photos courtesy of Vincent and Frost - Michel Beckers via Charlie and Andy Baker.

MB - 15.07.2015

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 15 July 2015, 21:53