18.04.1944 1657 HCU Stirling III EJ108 Flt Lt. Hugh C. Wilkie DFC
Date: 18th April 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit: 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), 3 Group
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire.
Location: Little Glemham, Suffolk.
Pilot: Flt Lt. Hugh Charles Wilkie DFC. 415397 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
Pilot 2: Flt Sgt. Colin George Nairne 42117 RNZAF Age 22. Survived (1)
Flt Eng: WO. William (Sandy) Alexander Watson DFM. 567222 RAF Age 25. Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. Frederick Thomas George Atkins 1603538 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Lyndon Clifford Perry 428925 RNZAF Age 21. Survived (1)
WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Frederick Gerald Rickard 429366 RNZAF Age 22. Survived ()
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Richard Stannard 1338510 RAFVR Age 22. Survived (1)
Air Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Alfred George Woodford 922095 RAFVR Age? Survived (1)
Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Philip Falkiner 425140 RNZAF Survived (1)
The following three American airmen from the 545th Bombardment Group (H), 384th Bombardment Group, US AAF 8th Air Force were killed on the ground:
S/Sgt. David Kent Ollre 6288183 AAF Age 23. Killed
Cpl. James Arthur Moore 32359853 AAF Age 23. Killed
Cpl. Teddy Raymond Potocki 32141939 AAF Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:35 hrs on a training exercise practicing night take off / landings (circuits and bumps). During one such take off when they were using RAF Polebrook as being used by the USAAF and were clear of operational flights during the night. The aircraft hit three USAAf personnel who had returned from an evening out on their bikes, killing them all instantly. The aircraft, with a damaged engine and probably damaged undercarriage they were already committed to take off.
They were then diverted to the emergency landing strip at RAF Woodbridge, as they approached Woodbridge the aircraft became more and more difficult to handle. The pilot, Flt Lt. Wilkie DFC, with plenty of experience having completed a tour already with 15 Squadron and the equally experience flight engineer WO. Watson DFM. decided they would try and land the aircraft after the remaining crew had baled out.
At least one of the engines was damaged and it is thought that one of the dinghy's had broken free and possibly damaged controls in the process. The reason this is thought is that at the scene of the first impact on the airfield, a dingy cover and emergency rations pack had been found.
During the baling out a loud explosion was heard and the aircraft went into a steep nose up angle.
The aircraft crashed into a field by a pond at Moat Farm, Little Glemham, Suffolk at 23:30 hrs. The two crew members were killed instantly, but sadly Sgt Atkins was killed when he failed to attach his parachute harness correctly and fell to his death in a field at Pettistree, near Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Mr. William Carter and his sister, who lived at a nearby cottage were unhurt when part of the aircraft hit the roof.
The East Anglian Aircraft Research Group recovered parts of this aircraft. The aircraft had, on an earlier Gardening operation whilst with 75 Squadron) been attacked by a night fighter on the 4th/5th November 1943. The damage during this attack amounted to port wing, starboard flap, rear turret and fuselage. The aircraft managed to return to base but the rear gunner, 28 year old Flt Sgt. Walter Hurdle 421279 RNZAF from Fielding, New Zealand was killed during the attack.
(2) Above: these crew members survived, tragically only to be killed just three months later. Flying with 75 Squadron on Lancaster I HK558 AA:D.
(3) Plt Off. Frederick Gerald Rickard survived the war. Son of Percy Gerald (died 21st October 1965, age 81) and Elsie Maud Rickard (née Bonnington - died 4th October 1949, age 64) Born on the 5th June 1919 at Mosgiel - died 3rd April 1998, age 78. Husband of Margaret Joce Rickard (née Milne - born 30th December 1919 - died 13th September 2016, age 96 - all buried at Ashburton Public Cemetery, Canterbury) of Ashburton, Canterbury, New Zealand. (with thanks to June Springer for this information)
Flt Lt. Hugh Charles Wilkie DFC. Son of Robert Hitton Wilkie and of Marion Edith Wilkie (née Pemberton), of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand. A very experienced pilot with 952 flying hours logged - 567 solo on the Stirling) Had already completed some 28 operations.
The DFC was awarded to Acting Flt Lt. Wilkie whilst with 15 Sqn. Citation Reads: "his officer has completed many sorties, involving attacks on various ports and on important industrial centres in the Ruhr. When his aircraft has been damaged by anti-aircraft fire whilst over the target area, he has always pressed home his attacks vigorously. Flight Lieutenant Wilkie has displayed outstanding ability and proved himself to be a confident and courageous captain." Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 27th July 1943.
WO. William (Sandy) Alexander Watson DFM. Auchtergaven Parish Churchyard. New ground. Grave 242. Son of William and Christina Watson, of Bankfoot, Perthshire, Scotland.
DFM was awarded to Sgt. Watson whilst with 90 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 15th June 1943.
Sgt. Frederick Thomas George Atkins. Mortlake Cemetery, Surrey. Plot 15. Sec C. Grave 291. Son of Frederick Thomas George and Eleanor Lucy Atkins, of Hammersmith.
S/Sgt. David Kent Ollre. Repatriated and buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery, Gonzales County, Texas. Born on the 10th February 1921 in Gonzales, Texas. Son of Claude Kent and Flora Leona (née Staton) Ollre and husband to Joyce (née Cohea) Ollre of Floresville, Texas, USA.
Cpl. James Arthur Moore. Repatriated and buried at the Still Pond Cemetery, Kent County, Maryland. Born on the 28th June 1921 in Betterton, Kent, Maryland. Son of Carlton Casper and Gertrude Evelyn (née Emerson) Moore of Seaford, Delaware, USA.
Cpl Teddy Raymond Potocki. Repatriated and buried at the Riverside Cemetery. Sec.S, vet. plot, grave 133. Born on the 6th march 1921 in Rochester, Monroe County, New York. Son of Joseph and Mary (née Lipinski) Potocki of Rochester, Monroe, New York, USA.
Researched by Kelvin Young (Webmaster) for Keith and June Springer - relatives of Flt Sgt. Colin George Nairne and dedicated to all the relatives of this crew and the USAAC personnel who were also killed. With thanks to Keith / June Springer for information and also to Errol Martyn for his comprehensive information on RNZAF losses of WW2. Reviewed and narrative updated by Ralph Snape (Aircrew Remembered) (Dec 2021).