13.04.1941 No. 149 Squadron Wellington IC T2897 OJ-O P/O. Morison
Operation: Mėrignac, France
Date: 13th April 1941 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 149 Squadron
Type: Wellington IC
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Location: Saint-Sever-Calvados, France
Pilot: P/O. Ronald Rutherford Morison 86641 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Pilot 2: Sgt. John Leo Guy Westley 754746 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Ernest John Holland DFM 751976 RAFVR Age 22. killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Hutchinson 942328 RAFVR Age 23. killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt K.C.H. Rawlings 939991 RAFVR PoW No: 609 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus, Toruń, Poland (357)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Walter Hugh Wilkinson 755659 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
The people in St-Sever-Calvados are considering holding a remembrance ceremony for all seven airmen killed in the area? If any reader knows more or has any information it would be appreciated that they get in touch with us and details will be passed on.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:50 hrs. from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to attack the Luftwaffe airfield at Mėrignac near Bordeaux this being the home of F2 300 long range maritime bombers of Kampfgeschwader 40. 11 aircraft were planned to take part in the raid but only nine became airborne.
Above on crew photo P/O. Morison shown first left.
T2897 was the only aircraft not to return from this operation and it was thought probable that it was hit by flak prior to crashing near Vire, Calvados, France.
However, we have since been contacted by a relative of one of the crew members who has collected further information after visiting the area and spoken to eye witness accounts of the crash in the area.
Above left: Sister aircraft to T2897 OJ-W from 149 Squadron. Right: Poster
Above left: P/O. Morison as a young 18 yr. old. Right: Sgt. Holland DFM (courtesy Loius Richards)
Sgt Rawlings was seen to bail out of the aircraft in order to light a fire in a field to aid the landing of the Wellington, which had suffered serious engine problems and the crew had decided to try and land T2897 on land rather than risk ditching at night in the channel.
Unfortunately as the aircraft came in it struck an unlit tall chimney on top of a bakery (Boulangerie) in the town of St-Sever-Calvados, crashing and also killing it is understood, 9 people on the ground. A huge fire then occurred at the crash site. The bakery is still trading today and a plaque was placed to the crew.
Another piece of information received to collaborate this information is that another relative of another crew on the same operation had written in his diary that the squadron had received a message from Wellington T2897 saying that they had engine trouble in the vicinity of the target but that nothing more was heard from them. The squadron did attempt a search at the time but it seems that they were looking in the wrong area and could find no trace of the crew or aircraft.
It is also known that several thousand people turned out for the funeral of the crew - not encouraged by the Germans of course.
Sgt. Ernest John Holland DFM (courtesy Loius Richards)
Interesting as the famous poster encouraging people to volunteer to work within aircraft production features Sgt. Ernest John Holland DFM who only weeks previous to his loss was asked to attend photographic sittings by the Ministry of Information
We would like others who have further information to contact us and in the meantime our researcher in the area Jacques Grasset will look into these reports further to establish if he can find further information locally.
Crew graves at St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery (available individually to relatives, samples shown below, - courtesy Jacques Grasset)
P/O. Ronald Rutherford Morison. St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Fred Hughes Morison and Jane Margaret Morison, of St. Boswells-on-Tweed, Roxburghshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Here, a boy. He dwell and ere the day of sorrow, departed as he came."
Sgt. John Leo Guy Westley. St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Alfred E. and Marie H. Westley, of Sutton, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: "We give him back, to thee dear lord, who gavest him to us, they will be done, RIP"
Sgt. Ernest John Holland DFM. St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Ernest and Ellen Holland, of Birmingham, England. Grave inscription reads: "A happy soul, heart of gold, no dearer son, this world could hold, God bless him."
Sgt. Ronald Hutchinson. St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Edmund and Margaret Hutchinson, of Sunderland, County Durham, England. Grave inscription reads: "Ever Remembered By his father and brothers."
Sgt. Walter Hugh Wilkinson. St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Walter Henry and Bessie Wilkinson, of Penrith, Cumberland, England. Grave inscription reads: "Among the chosen few, the very brave, the very true."
Researched by Jacques Grasset who took the first batch of grave photos for Aircrew Remembered. Further information supplied by Anthony Rickerby. To John Reid for visiting and taking the photographs of the graves. Details of the correct crash location our thanks go to Neil Clennell and Andre Laroze (eye witness). Neil is the relative of a Typhoon pilot, Sgt. Dennis Herbert Clennell buried in the same cemetery. Photographs of Sgt. Holland DFM sent by Louise Richards, relative. With thanks also to the following sources.