26.05.1944 No. 5 LFS Lancaster I L7578 RC-L P/O. Sanderson
Date: 26th May 1944 (Friday)
Unit: No. 5 LFS (Lancashire Finishing School)
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Location: Wood Barn, near Glebe Farm, Gonalston, Nottinghamshire
Pilot: P/O. George Benjamin Sanderson J/86545 RCAF Age 31. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Graham Middlemas 1822037 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Albert Dennis Clark 1473146 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. Archibald Thomas Noble J/87968 RCAF Age 28. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bernard Broe 1450090 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Dennis Wright R/203453 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derek Nicholls 1852333 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
New photographs added to the website - January 2017 with thanks to the Bishop family - their Grandfather was the foster brother of Sgt. Derek Nicholls.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 18:50 hrs on a combined navigation and bombing exercise.
The aircraft is reported to have dived from around 8,000 ft and crashed at 22:15 hrs at Wood Barn just outside the village of Gonalston, Nottinghamshire. All the crew were killed instantly.
Some reports state that the accident was thought to have been caused by the parachute harness of one of the crew getting entangled in the controls during a critical phase of the climb out from RAF Syerston.
Above left: Sgt James Graham Middlemas and right crash area (courtesy David Willey)
Above, as described - with Sgt. Nicholls rear row, 3rd from right.
L7578 whilst with 44 Squadron (courtesy IWM)
Crash site 2013 (courtesy David Willey)
Some years ago a memorial has been erected close to the impact area by relatives of Sgt. James Graham Middlemas.
Collective graves at Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery
(courtesy Jill Gilliver - available at a higher resolution free to relatives - please contact us)
Plt.Off. George Benjamin Sanderson. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Born on 31st January 1913 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Both his parents had died and his only next of kin was his sister Mabel May Sanderson. He was an economist and had served in the Home Guard from 1940-41 before resigning and returning to Canada where he enlisted in the RCAF in July 1942.
Sgt. James Graham Middlemas. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Son of Harry and Isabella Middlemas, of Galashiels, Selkirkshire, Scotland.
Sgt. Albert Dennis Clark. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Son of Albert and Jane Clark, of Sheffield, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Sleeps Peacefully With His Comrades."
P/O. Archibald Thomas Noble. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Born 16th October 1915. Son of Thomas Arthur and Mary Hannah Black Noble, of High River, Alberta, Canada.
Sgt. Bernard Broe. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Son of Harold Edward and Elsie Broe, of New Mills, Derbyshire, England. Grave inscription reads: " His Memory Is Our Greatest Treasure. In Our Hearts He lives Forever."
Fl/Sgt. Dennis Wright. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Born 20th March 1924. Son of Henry and Mary Wright, husband of Lillian Mary Wright, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Gone But Not Forgotten. Rest In Peace."
Sgt. Derek Nicholls. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Foster-son of Mrs. J. E. Osborne, of Sonning Common, Oxfordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "To Our Dear Boy, Most Loved, Never To Be Forgotten."
Researched for relatives of the crew, with thanks to Jill Gilliver for grave photographs, David Willey for additional information and photographs and of course to Betty Sheldon (1) - the girlfriend to Graham Middlemas, Del Bishop who contacted us in January 2017 with the crew photographs and the original photo of the grave markers. His Grandfather, John Hannington, was serving in the British Army at the time but shortly after his birth was fostered by Mrs. J.E. Osbourne. So he is the foster brother of Sgt. Derek Nicholls - the family of Del Bishop found the photographs with his Grandfather possessions, thank goodness he has kept them, also to sources as shown. Thanks to David Sneath for the NoK details from the National Library and Archives Canada for Plt.Off. Sanderson.
Betty with Landowner visiting the crash site.
(1) Betty was devastated by the loss of her boyfriend, Sgt. James Middlemas, and years later managed to pluck up the courage to visit the crash site with the permission and support of the landowner. Betty later met another aircrew member serving with No. 9 Squadron. Tragically he was also killed on the 8th April 1945 flying in a Lancaster I HK788 WS-E, just a month before the end of the war! This loss can be found on our website.