Operation: Air Test
Date: 3 November
Unit: No.76 RAF Squadron
Type: Handley Page Halifax V
Base: RAF Holme on Spalding Moor, Yorkshire
Location: Enthorpe House, 5 miles NE of Market
Pilot: Fl/Lt. James Steele, 127895 RAFVR Age
Flt/Eng: Sgt. Jeffery George Kirby, 1453264
RAFVR Age 27. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. William Laskie, 131957
RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Passenger: Miss Dorothy Robson BSc Age 23. Injured
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derek Kneale, 1450874 RAFVR Age
Air/Gnr: P/O. Roy Arthur Brawn, 420611 RAAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Henry Maxwell Welch, J/19121 RCAF
Age 25. Injured
While carrying out an air test of a new improved bomb
sight with Miss Robson aboard, it is believed that Captain Steele was flying at
a low level in order for her to maintain a view of the ground features. During
this manoeuver in an attempt to fly under low level cloud, the aircraft crashed
into some higher ground obscured by a bank fog.
The Halifax completely disintegrated on impact spreading
wreckage over a wide area. Although Fl/Lt. Steele, P/O. Welch and Miss Robson survived
the initial crash they sucumbed to their injuries a short time later.
As fate would have it, the usual navigator with this
crew, F/O. Frederick Hall, was excused from flying in order to allow Miss Robson
to sit in his place and check the bomb sight function. Reassigned to another
crew, Hall survived the war completing his tour of operations in 1944.
Fl/Lt. James Steele, Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Section C Row D Grave 10. Son of Sq/Ldr. Robert Steele and Norah Esme (née Gallaher) Steele of Crawley, Hampshire, England. No further details.
Jeffery George Kirby, City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, Manor Park, Essex. Cremation Panel 12. Home town and next of kin
F/O. William Laskie, Dundee (Balgay) Cemetery, Section M Grave 1030. Son of
Margaret Chalmers of Dundee, Scotland. No further details.
Dorothy Robson. Daughter of Shafto and Myra
Lily (née Moore) Robson of Hartlepool, County Durham, England. Further details: Dorothy Robson was born in Guisborough and lived there until she was eight
years old before moving to Hartlepool where her father had purchased a Chemist’s shop.
Dorothy was an exceptional student and after completing high school gained
entrance to Leeds University studying Physics. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree,
she accepted a position with the Ministry of Aircraft production at Farnborough
in Surrey. Her work entailed the development of bomb sight
improvements fitted to heavy bombers. Spending much of her time with the bomber
crews based at the numerous airfields in Yorkshire, she soon became known by the nickname “Bomb Sight Bertha”. Critically
injured in the crash, Dorothy died in hospital two days later. In accordance
with her wishes she was cremated and her ashes scattered from the air by a
Derek Kneale,Liverpool (West Derby) Cemetery, Section C, C of E, Grave 1495. Son of William
and Phyllis Kneale of Stoneycroft, Liverpool, England. Husband
of Edna May (née Dobie) Kneale. No further details.
P/O. Roy Arthur Brawn, Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Section C Row D Grave 8. Son
of Richard Henry and Alice May (nee Lickliss) Brawn, husband of Jean Mary (nee
Elliott) Brawn of Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia. Further details:
Enlisting in June of 1941, Roy Brawn completed his training in Australia being awarded his air gunners badge in September
1942. Posted overseas in October, he was sent to No.7 Bombing and Gunnery School in January, 1943, for a refresher course before
going to 20 OTU prior to 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit at Rufforth in Yorkshire. At the end of June, 1943 he joined RAF 76 Squadron based at Holme on
Spalding Moor. Between July and November 1943, he completed 17 operations over Europe. A Printers Compositor for the North Coast Beacon newspaper in Ballina,
NSW, prior to enrolling, Roy was
married just three months before embarking for the UK.
P/O. Roy Brawn front row second from left. Stormy Down 26th January 1943
P/O. Henry Maxwell Welch, Harrogate
(Stonefall) Cemetery, Section C Row D Grave 9, Son of Henry Tremain and Elizabeth
Ann (née Rankin) Welch of Thornloe, Ontario, Canada. No further details.
Researched and written by Colin Bamford for
Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the families of all those aboard Halifax LK681.
Hartlepool History Then And Now website.
Miss Robson photo courtesy People At War website.
Chorley, W.R. Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of
the Second World War Volume 4 1943. Midland 2007
P/O Welch photograph courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada website.
Australian War Memorial website.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.