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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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Bomber Command Crest
10.04.1944 No. 1653 HCU Stirling I BF397 Fl/Lt. A.M.F. Alexander,

Operation: Training  

Date: 10th April 1944            

Unit: 1653 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit)      

Type: Stirling I

Serial: BF397      

Coded: - K        

Location: RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk

Pilot: Fl/Lt. A.M.F. Alexander RNZAF (Instructor)

Pilot: F/O. S.G.W. Stokes RAFVR (Trainee)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. R.A. Partridge RAFVR

Nav: F/O. W.A. Airey RAFVR

W/Op/AirGnr: F/O. A.M. Rattray RCAF             

W/Op/AirGnr: Sgt. E.R. Bradbury RAFVR

Air/Gnr: Sgt. J.F. Wilson RCAF

Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.G. Cooper RAFVR


There were thousands of accidents during the war years - many of which are dont appear anywhere. This is just one of the many with no resulting injuries to the crew, unlike so many others.

Took-off from RAF Chedburgh in Suffolk, England for circuits and landings. (crew No. 80, course No. 17.) 

Bounced on landing at circa 14.50 hrs, with the trainee pilot at the controls, and promptly began to swing in the prevailing crosswind. Fl/Lt. Alexander RNZAF took over but was unable to check the swing before making contact with the runway for a second time, whereupon the wheels folded, no one was to badly hurt.

Over the next three hours, salvage workers concentrated on clearing the runway of the wreck.


This photo taken from the top of the wreck of BF397, shows the arc of the skid and swing to port following the undercarriage collapse, from which debris lay around this interesting shot of the stations Fordson Fire Tender. Also shown Cockpit section of BF397, after the crash. (mouse over image)

Notes from Wikipedia: 'On 7 September 1942 South of the Bury Road, RAF Chedburgh opened, in No. 3 Group RAF Bomber Command. Major construction work was carried out by John Laing and Son Ltd, built to Class A standard, the airfield had three concrete runways, 05-23 at 2,000 yards and 12-30 and 17-35 both at 1,400 yards. In October 1942, 214 Squadron moved in flying Short Stirling bombers. Various squadrons followed until December 1946. The airfield site was sold in October 1952, although some hangars were still visible in the 1970s. The Bury Road Business Park is located on the former technical site.'

For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Aircrew Remembered archives.

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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