14.11.1944 No. 51 Squadron Halifax III LK844 MH-N Fl/Sgt. Millard
Date: 14th November 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 51 Squadron (motto: 'Swift and Sure')
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire
Location: Thorpe Lane, Tingley, Yorkshire.
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Charles William Roy Millard 1466020 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Patrick Kendrick 3031120 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Victor Thomas Spragg 1604485 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Alexander Farquharson Simpson 1551166 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Hill 1590143 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred William Payton 1869457 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Ernest Douglas Saines 1802077 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
Page dedicated to Mr. Walter Townend who died on the 25th July 2012. Walter commissioned the memorial to this Halifax crew in 1989.
REASON FOR LOSS:
No exact details as to the cause. It is known that it left RAF Snaith at 17:30 hrs. The Halifax was in low cloud and the flying conditions poor with rain. It has been speculated that the flaps had iced. But what is known is that it came down on houses in Balaclava Terrace near the White Bear Hotel in Tingley. No fatalities on the ground and the crews bodies were recovered and sent to their home towns.
Two 13 year old schoolboys who attended Morley Grammar School take up the story as they remembered:
'After all these years, it is now April 2005, I can visualise part of the huge four engined Halifax bomber laid in the field in Tingley, the next village to mine of East Ardsley.
Whilst on my way home from the first performance at the Empire Theatre in Leeds on a dark, cold, wet, miserable evening, as the bus approached Tingley cross-roads (now Junction 28 M62) I noticed activity in the field over to my left. At the next bus stop some people boarding the bus said that a bomber had crashed in the field. Even back in those days I was a keen aviation enthusiast. That night I couldn’t sleep for thinking of what exciting find there would be for me only about 2 miles away on my way when cycling to school the next morning. Although I set off earlier than usual I was late for school!
My eyes gazed in wonder at the scene. However before seeing the actual plane the evidence was apparent. Roofs of houses damaged by falling debris from the bomber when it exploded over the village. Silver strips of anti jamming “Window” all over the area. Actual parts of the plane littered around. One of the fuel tanks dropped through the roof into a bungalow It ran through my mind first of all, were the crew of 7 alright, had they survived. Was there anyone killed in the village. I heard when enquiring later that, all the crew had died (it was too low to bale out) and all the people in Tingley had survived that terrible event.
At that stage we civilians were kept away from the immediate area. It was apparent though that the nose of the bomber containing the cockpit i.e. forward of the wings had sheared 2 bedrooms off houses in a long row. The pilot unlike the rest of the 7-man crew wasn’t recovered from the cockpit until that morning. The rest of the unfortunate airmen were scattered in close proximity to the houses in Tingley. Had the explosion occurred seconds earlier there could have been serious loss of life. It was recorded later that miraculously one little girl in one of the houses which had the bedroom damaged, had a scratched knee!
It was in January 1988 that I decided to make some enquiries for a personal scrapbook. This developed though into an in depth research. In a short period I’d located 4 of the airmen’s families resulting in photographs, actual meetings etc. If only for their sakes I decided that their loved one’s who’d flown together and died together would be remembered there at Tingley for posterity.
This called for a Memorial. I obtained Planning Permission, designed the Stone and commissioned a local Stonemason to carry out the work. Finally on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November 1989 (two days before the actual crash date) and 45 years later, over 250 attendees saw the beautiful, inscribed Memorial unveiled and Blessed. This was an achievement for me, and my wife who had helped me enormously. 51 Squadron R.A.F. (then at Wyton) in wartime Snaith, near Goole was well represented by the C.O and six officers.
Halifax LK844 was actually on a night training exercise when it got into difficulties soon after take-off. ‘Bad weather’ was recorded as the reason for its demise and ‘Difficult to handle, some probable icing in these conditions.’
Seven trees set in an arc with daffodils and crocuses around them are a beautiful sight in the Spring. Every year on Remembrance Sunday an informal wreath laying Service is held.'
Walter wrote a poem, ‘Ode To The Seven’, after the event which is recorded in our Poetry section. His friend, Vernon Wood also wrote another, ‘Tribute To A Bomber Crew’, with the help of his father as part of his homework.
Fl/Sgt. Charles William Roy Millard. Bishop's Stortford old Cemetery. Sec. H.15. Gen. Grave 10. Son of Charles Frederick and Victoria May Millard, husband of Peggy Millard, of Bishop's Stortford, England. Grave inscription: 'He Put Out His Hand And Touched The Face Of God'.
Sgt. William Patrick Kendrick. Morden Cemetery. Sec. H. Grave 1108. Son of Herbert Frederick and Margaret Nickson, of Morden, Surrey, England. Grave inscription: 'On Whose Soul Sweet Jesus, Have Mercy; Our Lady Of Lourdes Pray For Him R.I.P'.
Sgt. Victor Thomas Spragg. Mortlake Cemetery. Plot 8. Sec. D. Grave 99. Son of Thomas and Winifred Mary Spragg, of West Kensington, London, England. Grave inscription: 'In Loving Memory Of My Dear Son Victor, Always In My Thoughts. Good Night, God Bless'.
Fl/Sgt. Alexander Farquharson Simpson. Edinburgh (Warriston) Crematorium. Panel 4. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Simpson, of Edinburgh, husband of Agnes McGibbon Simpson, of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Sgt. John Hill. Swinefleet Cemetery. Sec. D. Grave 221. Grandson of Frederick and Mary A. Hill, of Swinefleet, Yorkshire, England. Grave inscription: 'Proud Son Of England's Heritage'.
Sgt. Alfred William Payton. Ely Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 162. Son of Alfred and Ethel Maud Payton, of Ely, husband of Marjorie Ann Payton, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. Grave inscription: 'Our Darling Alf. Always Remembered By His Loving Wife, Mum And Family'.
Sgt. Kenneth Ernest Douglas Saines. Selby Cemetery. Grave 5282. Son of Ernest and Florence Saines, husband of Sylvia Elsie Saines, of Hanwell, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription: 'He Lived For Good He Worshipped Truth And Laughed Uproariously In Youth'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Walter Townend and Vernon Wood, BBC WW2 People’s War, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 5, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.