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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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15.02.1944 51 Operational Training Unit Beaufighter IF R2129 Fl/Lt. Richmond

Operation: Training

Date: 15th February 1944 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 51 Operational Training Unit. 9 Group

Type: Beaufighter IF

Serial: R2129

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire

Location: Meadow Farm, Bourne End, Berkshire

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Sylvester Roger Oliffe Richmond NZ/402217 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

Nav: F/O. Denis Reginald Wilkes NZ/427240 RNZAF Age 23. Killed


On the 08th August 1941 the pilot was involved in a horrific accident during training. Whilst with 114 Squadron flying Blenheim IV V6522 they crashed, killing the navigator 26 year old, Sgt. John Douglas Mackay 993210 RAFVR. The pilot suffered severe injuries and was taken to Kings Lynn Hospital in Norfolk with both legs broken.

Sadly, one of which had to be amputated - but incredibly after being grounded for two years he continued to fly in a training role later in 1943. Most others would have requested to be repatriated home! These boys have to be remembered!

At 20:12 hrs they took off on a Dual Ground Controlled Interception exercise and completed this at 22:18 hrs.

Just seven minutes later they entered a steep dive from around 3000 ft and exploded on hitting the ground at location shown. Two more New Zealand boys losing their lives in the war effort.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Sylvester Roger Oliffe Richmond. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14353. Born on the 01st September 1916 at Gisborne, the son of Sylvester Herbert Guinness Richmond and Lillian Alice Richmond (née Halliday), of Motu, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 348 flying hours logged with 20 of these on this type. Thought to have completed one operational sortie.

(Note: visited by webmaster in February 2016 - flowers placed)

F/O. Denis Reginald Wilkes. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14352. Born on the 27th June 1920 at Waimate, the son of Gabriel Alfred and Mary Elizabeth Wilkes (née Shea), of Wellington City, New Zealand. A total of 181 flying hours logged.


Sgt. John Douglas Mackay. Norwich and Norfolk Crematorium. Son of John Wright Mackay and Victoria Mackay, of Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland.

(Note: visited by webmaster in April 2019 - flowers placed)

Researched by Jenifer Lemaire of New Zealand for Aircrew Remembered - June 2019 and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

Image Credit: Flying Officer Denis R. Wilkes: Auckland Library Heritage Collection: 12 April 1944: AWNS19440412-22-28.

JL/KTY 13.06.2019

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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 (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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, 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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