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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
11/12.08.1944 No. 30 OTU Wellington III BK562 F/O. P.W. Clifton

Operation: Training

Date: 11/12 August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 30 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington III

Serial: BK562

Code: BT-R

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


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

Burial Details:

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.

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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 CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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