No. 2 School of Air Navigation Oxford DF477 F/O. Wheeler
Operation: Navigation training?
Date: 20th March 1943 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 2 School of Air Navigation
Type: Airspeed Oxford
Base: RAF Cranage, Cheshire.
Location: Mottrams Farm, Ash Bank, Crewe.
Pilot: F/O. Albert Edward Wheeler DFC 50363 RAF Age 32. Killed
Crew: L.A.C. John Gordon Stoneham 1396881 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Crew: Fl/Sgt. Harold Clark 1023954 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Crew: L.A.C. Frank Edward Hughes 1394564 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Update January 2015 - Memorial plans are still in preparation We would like to appeal for any relatives of this crew to contact us.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from R.A.F. Sealand returning to its base at Cranage, understood to be a navigational training exercise and crashed at Mottrams Farm, Ash Bank, Crewe having collided with a barrage balloon protecting the Rolls Royce works in Crewe.
W/O. Albert Edward Wheeler 590017 on the 15th October 1942 promoted to Flying Officer on probation. Awarded the DFC whilst with 210 Squadron for 'For gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations' on the 25th July 1941. During his time at 210 Squadron he was flying both Sunderlands and Catalinas. On the 20th July 1941 left Sullom Voe in the Shetlands at 23.25 hrs on Catalina W8418 to Archangel, northern Russia with 'Special Passengers'. After serving with 210 squadron moved to 4 OTU as an instructor and then between 17th June 1942 - 14th October at RAF Cranwell. Transferred following his commission to General Duties Branch on 15th October 1942.
No. 949 Barrage Balloon squadron reports that the aircraft was flying at about 1,000 ft with the time of accident about 15.25 hrs.
There were several other incidents in the same area, indeed even on the same day, a Wellington from 27 O.T.U also crashed in similar circumstances, just 6 minutes earlier!
Another Wellington crashed earlier in the war, again, similar circumstances.
Map showing probable crash locations. With thanks to further assistance on these locations by Mr. Steve Bratt.
Airspeed Oxford (archives)
The bodies were taken to R.A.F. Cranage the following day, then arrangements made to move them to their home towns.
F/O. Albert Edward Wheeler. Birkenhead (Landican) Crematorium. Son of Augustus and Matilda Wheeler; husband of Doris Haddock Wheeler, of Chester. England.
L.A.C. John Gordon Stoneham. Eltham Cemetery, Woolwich. Sec. A. Grave 262. Son of William and Caroline Stoneham, England.
Fl/Sgt. Harold Clark. Swinton Cemetery. Sec. A. Grave 3290. Son of Harry and Bertha Clark; husband of Kathleen Louise Clark, of Swinton, England.
L.A.C. Frank Edward Hughes. Deal Cemetery. Plot C. Block 8. Grave 4818. Son of Frederick William and Monica Hughes, of Deal, England.
Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to Steve Bratt, Alan Clark, Ross McNeil, the Commonwealth Graves Commission.