04.03.1945 No. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit PD431 H4-V Fl/Sgt. Truskett
Date: 04th March 1945 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF North Luffenham, Rutland, England
Location: Edith Weston, Rutland
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Terence George Truskett AUS/428001 RAAF Age 24. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Dennis William Gilbert 627389 RAF Age 26. Killed
Nav: P/O. Bernard William Drake 55096 RAF Age 24. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Ian Bailey Yorkston AUS/429072 RAAF Age 25. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. William Henry Ford 1535240 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Donald Campbell McLellan AUS/424442 RAAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Thompson 3040793 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Gordon Ratcliffe 2222927 RAF Age 25. Injured (2)
REASON FOR LOSS:
During the afternoon took off from RAF North Luffenham in Rutland for a cross country exercise.
At around 16:00 hrs they landed ver heavily and bounced - the pilot decided to increase power to go round again. During the climb the Lancaster’s undercarriage struck a vehicle - just seconds later the aircraft crashed into trees near the village of Edith Weston, killing all the crew.
(1) The family lost his younger brother, 21 year old, F/O. Gordon Cameron Yorkston AUS/422902 RAAF less than two weeks later. He went missing with all the other 4 crew on Saturday the 17th March 1945. Flying on a meteorological reconnaissance flight when the Hudson IIIA FK739 with 251 Squadron was lost off Iceland - probably due to icing.
(2) Update, October 28th 2018 - Details are sketchy regarding Sgt. Ratcliffe loss. The nephew of the air gunner informed us the following: The occupant of the van, 25 year old, Sgt. William Gordon Ratcliffe was badly injured and taken to the hospital at RAF Rauceby crash and burns unit. Sadly he succumbed to his injuries the following day.
However, on checking various sources it appears that he may indeed have been a member of the crew? Further research continues!
P/O. Bernard William Drake. Lutterworth Churchyard (St. Mary). Plot B. Row 1. Grave 2. Son of Percy and Fanny Louisa Drake (née Dawes), of Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England. Grave inscription reads: “His Was The Greater Gift; Watch, Lest It Be In Vain”.
Sgt. Dennis William Gilbert. Kirby Muxloe Cemetery. Row 62. Grave 2077. Of Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire, England - no further details, are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Terence George Truskett. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15306. Son of John William and Dora Anne Truskett, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. Grave inscription reads: “His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done. Ever Remembered”.
Fl/Sgt. William Henry Ford. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15303. Son of William Henry and Clara Ford and husband of Florence Elizabeth Ford, of Droylsden, Lancashire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Ian Bailey Yorkston. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15304. Son of John and Annie Estill Yorkston, of Mosman, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: “A Fine Christian Gentleman "With His Lord”.
Sgt. James Thompson. Sunderland Cemetery (Mere Knolls). Ward 1.A. Grave 1380. Son of James and Mary Thompson, of Fulwell, Sunderland, England. Grave inscription reads: “The Dearly Beloved Son Of James And Mary Thompson. Peace Perfect Peace”.
W/O. Donald Campbell McLellan. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15305. Son of Hubert and Lilian May McLellan and husband of Lilian McLellan, of Waratah, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: “Earth Is Poorer, Heaven Is Richer”.
Sgt. William Gordon Ratcliffe. Anderton Roman Catholic Churchyard (St. Joseph). Plot C. Row 3. Grave 15. Son of Robert and Helen Ratcliffe, of Rivington, Chorley, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: “Thy Will Be Done”.
Researched for Andrew Ratcliffe - relative of Sgt. William Gordon Ratcliffe and dedicated to the relatives of this crew - with thanks to sources as shown below.