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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
16.02.1944 No. 1409 Met Flight Mosquito PR.XVI ML298 F/O. A.W. Powell-Wiffen MiD

Operation: Pampa. (1)

Date: 16th February 1944 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 1409 Meteorological flight (8th PFF Group)

Type: Mosquito PR.XVI

Serial: ML928

Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire

Location: Near airfield at Wyton

Pilot: F/O. Arthur William Powell-Wiffen MiD and bar. 141455 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Nav: P/O. Harry Ashworth DFM. 169692 RAFVR Age 35. Killed (2)

REASON FOR LOSS:

1409 Meteorological flight was based at Oakington then at Wyton from January 1944. Using fast, light unarmed Mosquitos their prime duty was to ascertain weather and conditions over the targets before any operations.

F/O. Arthur William Powell-Wiffen MiD and Bar also shown with his wife, Doreen.

Took off at 11:45 hrs. on 'Pampa' (long-range meteorological sortie) from Wyton. After 30 minutes into the sortie the pilot called that he was returning to base due to the deteriorating weather with very low cloud. During the circuit at low level he made a further two low level circuits of the airfield before crashing heavily at 12:15 hrs. bursting into flames. 

P/O. Harry Ashworth DFM also shown with his wife, Winifred and son Paul.

Ground crews from 83 squadron rushed to the scene and managed to pull both crew out of the aircraft. It is thought that visibility was poor that day which caused the pilot to turn back to Wyton.

Both crew members were taken to the RAF hospital at Ely where they died the next day from their burns. 

(2) The citation for his Distinguished Flying Medal reads:-

Ashworth, Harry 1142123 Flight Sergeant, No. 1409 (Met) Flight.

London Gazette 18th January 1944 - Sorties 14, Flying hours - 98.20. Navigator Air2/9153.

“Flight Sergeant Ashworth has successfully completed a total of 34 long-range meteorological sorties with No. 1490(Met) Flight and has penetrated into areas defended by the enemy on 26 occasions. He maintained a high standard of navigation and his meteorological observations have materially contributed to the success of many raids by Bomber Command. By his alertness, he has enabled his pilot to avoid interception on a number of occasions. I strongly recommend that Flight Sergeant Ashworth be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal” - 13th November 1943.

(1) The coordinates for this sortie are entered in Bill Chorley's Bomber Command Losses Vol. 8 as 5330N 0200W and 5500 N 0200E

Burial details:

F/O. Arthur William Powell-Wiffen. MiD. East Hendred Church Cemetery, Berkshire. N.E. part. Further information: Born on the 19th of November 1913 at Havelock, South Island, New Zealand to Alfred Ernest Arthur and Violet Powell-Wiffen. He had two brothers John and Ernest and an older step-sister, Rara from his fathers first marriage. Attended Marlborough College, Blenheim, New Zealand. After leaving school he travelled to England as he wanted to further his career as an aero engineer and it is believed that he spent some time working with Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine. He was the husband of Doreen Mary Powell-Wiffen of East Hendred, Berkshire. Their son Jonathan was born on the 22nd October 1944.

Arthur Wiffen worked in the aircraft servicing engine repair section and as an inspector in the Airscrew section at De Havilland's Aircraft Co.Ltd, Hatfield and Stag Lane - from June 1937 to September 1939.
January 1938 - September 1939 Attached to De Havilland's School of flying for weekend flying.
November 1939 - Posted to No. 1 I.T.W. Cambridge
January 1940 - Posted to No. 3 S.F.T.S. South Cerney for intermediate and advance flying training
June 1940 - Posted to No. 15 O.T.U.Harwell for operational training
September 1940 - Posted to No. 9 Squadron, Honington.
December 1940 - Posted to No. 148 Squadron, Malta.
April 1941 - Posted to Uxbridge, returning to England via West Africa.
September 1941 - Posted to 15 O.T.U. Harwell for Instructional duties.
November 1942 - Attached to No. 3 Flying Instructors School, Castle Combe for Instructors course.
June 1943 - Attached Central Navigators School, Cranage, Cheshire for Captain of Aircraft course.
November 1943 - Posted to 1655 Flight Marham for Mosquito training.
December 1943 - Posted to 1409 Flight Oakington for operational duties.
On December 28th 1943 while stationed at Oakington, he requested in a letter to the head of the RNZAF that he be transferred from the RAFVR to the RNZAF (England to gain more experience before the war in aeronautics.)
Operations flown:
17 with No 9. Squadron
18 with No. 148 Squadron
2 with 15 OTU Twice mentioned in dispatches.
His logbook states that he flew 1455.10 hours in total.
Date of commission - 5th October 1942.
F/O. Powell-Wiffen flew several operations with P/O. Ashworth during January and February 1944.

P/O. Harry Ashworth DFM. Manchester Crematorium. Panel 6. Further information: Born in March 1909 and one of four brothers of Thomas and Alice Ashworth of Manchester .He lived in Droylsden, then Audenshaw and worked for Odhams Press. He married Winifred (née Preston) of Clayton, Manchester, in 1939 and they had one son, Paul who was born in July 1940.

He was called up for active service in the RAF in February 1941 and for the next three years flew as navigator in Mosquito’s on reconnaissance sorties and was promoted to Pilot Officer in January 1944. According to the units records Harry was nearing the end of his operational tour.

Although his only son Paul never really knew his father, he was always close to his three uncles, and enjoyed stories of his father’s good humour and particularly his love of music.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Special thanks for the uniformed photo’s and information on his father to Jonathon Powell-Wiffen and to Rex Kingham. Also many thanks to Paul Ashworth son of P/O. Ashworth for the information and photograph and to Geoffrey Ashworth. 

KTY 03.08.2015 Page updated

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: 03 August 2015, 19:46