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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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RAF Crest
03.03.1945 No. 54 OTU Beaufighter VIF KV976 F/O. J.A. Patterson

Operation: Training

Date: 03rd March 1945 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 54 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Beaufighter VIF

Serial: KV976

Code: -

Base: RAF Charterhall, Berwickshire

Location: North Sea, Berwickshire

Pilot: F/O. J.A. Patterson J/46680 RCAF Survived - injured (1)

Pilot 2: W/O. P.J. O’Malley 1271578 RAFVR Survived - shock (2)

Nav 1: F/O. Frank Ernest Larkman J/42709 RCAF Age 20. Injured (3)

Nav 1: Fl/Sgt. R.M. Wedgwood 1579367 RAFVR Age ? Killed (4)


We would like to appeal for any relatives of the crew who are able to provide further information - interested parties who maybe related to F/O. Larkman would like to hear from his relatives.


REASON FOR LOSS:

On a training exercise out of RAF Charterhall, in Berwickshire when the aircraft suffered instrument failure. The Gyros and Horizon failed at 500 ft. The aircraft crashed after turning on its back into the North Sea.

Fl/Lt. Hanson-Lester from 279 Squadron took off in a Warwick to search for the aircraft - on arrival at the scene he noticed two High Speed Launches, two RNLI lifeboats also making a search, as well as four other Beaufighters and a Mosquito, all searching frantically for the crew.

One of the Beaufighter crew reported that 3 survivors had already been picked up and were being taken to the mainland - but it was thought that there could be one other crew member unaccounted for. They continued with the search.

It was discovered that both pilots had survived with slight injuries and shock, the Warwick pilot reported oil and wreckage three miles north of Berwick so continued to circle for about another hour dropping marine markers - the two High Speed Launches were guided to the spot discovering a Mae West some 400 yards from the marine markers. (1) One of the launches approached a survivor, F/O. Frank Larkman - taking him on board and providing him with first aid but, he succumbed to his injuries.


BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS

(1) F/O. J.A. Patterson - Nothing further known, are you able to help?

(2) W/O. P.J. O’Malley - Nothing further known, are you able to help?


(3) F/O. Frank Ernest Larkman was born 13 February 1925 at Grace Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada the son of Richard Larkman and Winifred Hope Larkman nee King. His parents were both born in England, Richard Larkman at Dartford Kent in 1891 and Winifred King at West Ham, London in 1899. They were married at Toronto in 1922 and had three other children, Grace Muriel Larkman born c1923, Arthur Henry Larkman born c1927 and Ernest King Larkman born c1932. The family lived at 29 Lilian Street, Toronto.

Frank Larkman was educated at Eglinton Primary School, Toronto from 1930 to 1938 and afterwards attended the Northern Vocational Technical School, Toronto from 1938 to 1942 on a Printing Course.

At the age of 17 he commenced employment in Printing Duties at the Houghton Novelty Company but left after 2½ months because of the low rate of pay. He then took employment at E.S. & A Robinson, Paper Product Manufacturers of Leaside, Ontario where he worked as a Helper in the Printing Department until joining the Royal Canadian Air Force on 15 April 1943.

On enlistment he was recorded as being 5'4" tall weighing 115 lbs with a medium complexion, Blue Eyes, Brown Hair and a good development.

He was trained at No.3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, Manitoba, No. 2 Initial Training School at Regina, Saskatchewan, No. 7 Air Observer School at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and No. 1 Aircrew Graduate Training School, Maitland, Nova Scotia.

He was awarded his Navigator's Badge and commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 10 March 1944.

After a period of leave he embarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia on 29 April 1944 and disembarked in the UK on 7 May 1944 where he was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth. On 22 August he was posted to No. 62 Operational Training Unit at RAF Ouston, Northumberland and to 54 Operational Training Unit at RAF Winfield in Berwickshire on 17 October 1944.

He was promoted to Temporary Flying Officer on 10 September 1944.


(4) Fl/Sgt. R.M. Wedgwood was born in 1923 at Linton, Bedfordshire the son of the Reverend Charles Henry (Charlie) Wedgwood and Myrtle Winifred Wedgwood nee Perry of Yockleton Rectory, Yockleton near Shrewsbury, Shropshire.




BURIAL DETAILS

F/O. Frank Ernest Larkman was buried on 7 March 1945 at Fogo Churchyard, Berwickshire - Section E. Grave 13

Fl/Sgt. R.M. Wedgwood was buried at Yockleton (Holy Trinity) Churchyard , Shropshire, England. Grave - North of Church.

His epitaph reads:

Much loved third son

Of Rev. C.H. and M.W. Wedgwood

Called to higher service



Researched for Helen Smith and dedicated to the relatives of the crew with thanks to sources as quoted below:

KTY 18-05-2016

RW 19.05.2016 Biographical details and photograph of F/O. Larkman and details of W/O. Wedgwood added

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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