11/12.08.1944 No. 30 OTU Wellington III BK562 F/O. P.W. Clifton
Date: 11/12 August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 30 OTU (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Seighford, Staffordshire
Location: Wilford, Nottingham.
Pilot: F/O. P.W. Clifton RAFVR Age ? Survived.
Pilot: W/O. James William Jesse Butler 1282513 RAFVR Age 28 Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Struthers Owens 1573888 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Denys Edward Townsend 1740042 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Seighford at 22:30 hours for a night cross-country exercise.
During the sortie and having flown into some cloud, the artificial horizon indicator failed. Within seconds the gyros began to spin and at 02:36 hours, by now partially abandoned, the aircraft crashed onto a tennis court at Wilford, close to the banks of the River Trent, in the south-east suburbs of Nottingham.
According to one local resident, the aircraft crashed on tennis courts which are now St Patrick’s Roman Catholic School, between Coronation and Vernon Avenue. The tennis courts were surrounded on three sides by houses and amazingly none of the residents around were killed.
One airman landed in a garden and was taken in by the residents of Vernon Avenue who went to help. The three who died were taken to their home towns in England and Scotland.
Wellingtons of 30 OTU
W/O James William Jesse Butler. City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, Manor Park. Square 287. Grave 111856. Son of James and Annie Norah Butler, of East Ham, London, England.
Sgt William Struthers Owen. St Ninians (Bannockburn) Parish Burial Ground. Compt. C.23. Grave 4. Son of Thomas and Margaret Owens, of Glasgow, Scotland.
Sgt Denys Edward Townsend. Brockleton (St Michael) Churchyard. South of Church. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Henry Townsend, of Pudleston, Herefordshire, England.
Researched by Mike Harrison for Aircrew Remembered, December 2013.