19/20.05.1944 514 Squadron Lancaster II LL641 JI:K Flt.Sgt. Shearing
Operation: Le Mans
Date: 19/20th May 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 514 Squadron
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: Chippenham, Cambridgeshire
Pilot: Flt.Sgt. Edward Henry John Shearing 1388915 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Arthur Thomas Blunden 1811667 RAFVR Age 37. Killed
Nav: Flt.Sgt. Victor Henry Tayton 1168418 RAFVR Age 35. Killed
Air Bmr: Fg.Off. J. Peake J20915 RCAF Age? Survived
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Marshall 1544531 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Lloyd Clenton Masson R204001 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. M.H. Smart R185925 RCAF Age? Survived
Above left: Flt.Sgt. Shearing and right: Sgt. Masson
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:30 hrs from RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire to bomb the railway yards. Homebound the Lancaster spun and crashed 03:30 hrs at Badlingham Farm, Chippenham, Buckinghamshire, some 4 miles NNE from the airfield at Newmarket, Suffolk.
Statement from OC of 514 Sqn, dated 23rd May 1944:
This aircraft returned from Operations and called up base on R/T. He was given a turn to land above four. The Pilot then went on to the "Great Circuit". When his turn to land came round base called him on the R/T with no result. Nothing further was heard of this aircraft until Flying Officer J. Peake, phoned to say it had crashed. From Plying Officer J. Peake's report it would appear that the pilot lost control and the aircraft spun in. (Statement from OC of 514 Sqn, dated 23rd May 1944)
Extract from Flying Accident Report: 20th May 1944:
Examination of the wreckage revealed no obvious defect and was rendered difficult owing to extensive damage to the aircraft through impact and subsequent fire. The aircraft, out of control, struck the ground upside down and it would appear that engine failure on one side may have caused loss of air speed, and a sudden opening up the serviceable engines on the opposite side, in order to regain air speed, caused the aircraft to became unstable. The cause of the assumed engine failure is not know, The aircraft was returning from operations and it may have been due to enemy action resulting in loss of fuel through damage to tanks.
Above: a Lancaster Mk 1 or Mk III from 514 Sqn dropping its bombs over France (IVM)
514 Sqn at RAF Waterbeach. Left: These Lancasters are either Mk 1 or Mk III which were operational with the Sqn between Jun 1944 and Aug 1945. Right: This depicts a Lancaster Mk II which had the Hercules engines and was operational with the Sqn between Sept 1943 and Sept 1944.
The following is a Mission/incident report provided by Fg.Off. Peake:
On the night of May 19/20th 1944, on returning from a successful operation to LE MANS, France, we had entered the circuit and had been given turn 12 to land.
The Captain decided to keep on his present course and fly on for 10 minutes to keep clear of other aircraft in the circuit. After passing over Tuddenham aerodrome, identified by myself by the letters T.D. we turned on a reciprocal course and headed back for base.
Just after passing over Tuddenham again on our leg to base aircraft started to turn slowly to starboard. Captain said "there is something wrong and asked Engineer for “more power". Aircraft immediately went into a starboard spin and I was thrown against Bombing Panel. At the start of the spin we were at 3500 - 4000 feet and Captain shouted “Prepare to abandon aircraft".
Reaching for my parachute which was on the Mandrel Box I snapped one hook in the parachute harness. but had difficulty with the other hook. I was trying to put the hook on the parachute into the parachute harness with one hand and pull the escape hatch up with the other hand. I succeeded in pulling the escape hatch up and shooting it forward into the glass nose and suddenly came out of the spin and the Captain said "Hang on chaps". I remember saying “lets keep calm, with both hands. I now succeeded in hooking parachute on securely. We were now at 1500-2000 feet and Captain succeeded in holding, aircraft steady for approx: 5-10 seconds. Aircraft then went into a second starboard spin and Captain said *Abandon aircraft".
I fell forward but became jammed in escape hatch and as the aircraft was in a spin had difficulty in raising myself up on my elbows to fall out again. The second time I fell forward I turned slightly on my side and fell clear but lost a flying boot. Aircraft was now at 800-1000 feet and as I fell the fuselage passed over me.
I pulled the chute and almost immediately felt the jerk and just as that happened aircraft hit the ground and burst into flames. I looked. down and saw a narrow strip of ground quite clearly. Reaching up I grabbed the para-chute straps and almost immediately I hit the ground quite relaxed and rolled ever on my left side and shoulder and as there was no wind parachute collapsed and did not drag me. My only injury was a slightly bruised knee and a mouthful of earth.
I snapped off my parachute harness and on regaining my feet and finding I could walk I remember running across the field towards the aircraft which was burning intensely and ammunition was exploding. To me it looked about 500 yards away but after falling in a hedge and eating more dirt I realised it was a good mile away then - so I returned to my parachute, unhooked my harness and put it on again also my helmet as it was quite cool and then I made for a road.
Upon reaching a gravel road I walked along in the direction cf the aircraft. I had to stop and put some straw in the foot at my sock as I had lost one flying boot and the gravel made walking, without a shoe very difficult. After walking two miles along the road I was even with
the aircraft which was about 600 yards off the road in a field. Hearing shouts from the vicinity of the aircraft I cut across the field and was found by two home guards.
They took me back to a farm and informed me that the rear gunner was still alive but the rest were dead. Using the phone I called up Newmarket aerodrome and asked them to send an ambulance and then phoned my own station telling them where I was. I then borrowed a pair of shoes from the farmer and went with him to see the rear gunner. He was made quite comfortable and although he was a little delirious I talked with him for 10 minutes, when the ambulance came up and the doctor gave him a shot in the arm and took him away (admitted to Ely Hospital). I then went back to the farmhouse and waited for my C.O.
Those who died rest in various United Kingdom cemeteries. Sgt.Blunden and Flt.Sgt. Taylor at 37 and 35 respectively were above the age normally associated with Bomber Command aircrew.
Flt.Sgt. Edward Henry John Shearing. Bournemouth East Cemetery. Plot N. Row 5. Grave 160. Son of Edward and Annie Louisa Shearing of Southbourne, Bournemouth, England.
Sgt. Arthur Thomas Blunden. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13764. Son of Albert and Louisa Blunden of New Cross, London, England.
Flt.Sgt. Victor Henry Tayton. Coventry (London Road) Cemetery. Square 283. Grave 130. Son of John Henry and May Tayton and husband of Iris Tayton of Macclesfield, Cheshire. F/O. Tayton is also remembered on the War Memorial, Park green, Macclesfield, Cheshire. England.
Sgt. Reginald Marshall. Woodkirk (St.Mary) churchyard, Yorkshire. Section C. Row 25. Grave 24. Son of John Henry and Annie Marshall of Tingley, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Joseph Lloyd Clenton Masson. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 49.C.4. Born 9th February 1925 in Cornwall, Ontario. Son of Joseph Clenton and Lille May (née Branchune) Masson from Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt.Off. with a Service No. of J92607.
Joseph Lloyd Masson changed his name by deed poll Joseph Lloyd CLENTON Masson.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Thanks to John Jones for the additional information from the Flying Accident Report, Mission report by Fg.Off. Peake and image of Sgt. Masson (Oct 2020).