10.04.1943 Central Gunnery School Wellington IA N2865 Fl/Lt. Stanbury
Date: 10th April 1943 (Saturday)
Unit: No. Central Gunnery School
Type: Wellington Ia
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire
Location: Abbotts Ripton, Huntingdonshire
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Terence Cathcart Stanbury 42271 RAF Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. John Alfred Town J/16172 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: F/O. Reginald Ross Hely AUS/403811 RAAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt Charles Ronald Archer 1113141 RAFVR Age 40. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Eric Cooke 742967 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Clifford Harrison 1000251 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Spitfire IIa P7677: Pilot: Fl/Lt. Ernest Hamilton Griffith AUS/403334 RAAF Age 27. Baled out - injured (2)
REASON FOR LOSS:
During a training exercise the above two aircraft collided in mid-air. The Spitfire pilot managed to bale out of his aircraft, suffering injuries to his not and shock - admitted to RAF sick quarters at Sutton Bridge.
The Wellington crew all perished in the accident when the Wellington crashed at Abbotts Ripton in Huntingdonshire. Following the crash, both aircraft caught fire.
The following investigations by Sq/Ldr. Faulkner from Headquarters 25 Group concluded that neither pilot was to blame and described it as an “accident”.
The funerals of Fl/Lt. Stanbury and F/O. Gordon Griffiths Thomas NZ/403999 RNZAF (from an accident the previous day in Spitfire IIA P7678) took place with full military honours at Sutton Bridge Cemetery on the 13th April 1943.
(1) F/O. John Alfred Town - enlisted in the RCAF in 1940, trained as an air gunner - receiving promotion to F/O in 1942 - previously served in Coastal Command. Town Lake, southeast of Egenolf Lake, Manitoba, Canada was named after him in 1975.
(2) Fl/Lt. Ernest Hamilton Griffith recovered from his injuries and went on to serve as a pilot with 456 Squadron flying Mosquitoes. 29th September 1943. Mosquito NF.II DV690 crashed, during what appears to have been a test flight with a fitter as a passenger, 23 year old, Cpl. William Henry Blakeley AUS/26162 RAAF. The aircraft entered a high speed stall and dived into the ground after the starboard engine and tubular engine mounting structure became torn away whilst flying at 1000 ft over RAF Colerne airfield in Wiltshire. Both crew killed.
Fl/Lt. Terence Cathcart Stanbury. Sutton Bridge Cemetery ( St. Mathew) Sec. Q. Grave 43. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Eric Cooke. Grimsby Cemetery. (Scartho Road) Sec. 116. Row H. Grave 10. Son of James William Cooke, and of Beatrice Cooke (née Tomlin), of Grimsby, husband of Daphne May Cooke (née Ferris), of Perth, Scotland.
F/O. Reginald Ross Hely. Houghton and Wyton Burial Ground. Grave 351. Born on the 10th January 1921 at Wagga Wagga, NSW, the son of Norman and Florence Beatrice Hely, of Hamilton, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt Charles Ronald Archer. Houghton and Wyton Burial Ground. Grave 362. Husband of Margaret Emily Archer, of Croydon, Surrey, England.
F/O. John Alfred Town. Houghton and Wyton Burial Ground. Grave 350. Born on the 15th May 1917, the son of William Richard and Winnifred Maud Town, husband of Eileen Audra Town, of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Clifford Harrison. St. Anne’s-On-Sea Churchyard. Grave E.17.H. Son of James H. Harrison and Florence A. Harrison, of St. Anne's-on-Sea, England.
Fl/Lt. Ernest Hamilton Griffith. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Sec. H. Row V. Grave 248. Born on the 22nd May 1916 at Albury NSW, the son of Charles Hunter Griffith and Olive May Griffith, of Albury, New South Wales, Australia, husband of June Margaret Murray Griffith, father to Susan Hamilton Griffiths of Narrandera, New South Wales. Previously served in the 21st Light Horse Regiment prior to enlisting in the RAAF on the 6th January 1941.
Mosquito fitter details:
Cpl. William Henry Blakeley. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Sec. H. Row T. Grave 248. Born on the 15th October 1919 the son of Harry Newsome Blakeley and Ann Agatha Blakeley, of Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia, husband of Jessie Blakeley, of Halifax, England (Later of Dowlais, Glamorgan, South Wale)
Researched for Jeremy Musk, nephew of the Wellington pilot and dedicated to the relatives of these crews with thanks to sources quoted below.