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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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59 squadron badge
04.06.1940 No. 59 Squadron Blenheim IV R3697 P/O. Ashton

Operation: Transit flight / Reconnaissance?

Date: 4th June 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 59 Squadron

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: R3697

Code: TR-?

Base: RAF Odiham, Hampshire

Location: RAF Eastchurch, Kent

Pilot: P/O. Stanley William Ashton 42476 RAF Age 29. Killed

Obs: Sgt. William John Wilson 581485 RAF Age 27. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roland Wilson 629500 RAF Age 20. Killed (2)


Understood to have been on a transit flight back to it's base at RAF Odiham, Hampshire, although some sources (3) say that it was on an operational flight.

On take off from RAF Eastchurch the Blenheim is thought to have clipped a wing during take off resulting in the crash near or at R.A.F. Eastchurch, killing all the crew.

Some sources (4) quote that the aircraft was based in Hawkinge and was as a result of engine failure. On a reconnaissance mission from RAF Andover when it crashed at 12.30 pm on take off.


Sgt. William John Wilson on left - others as yet unidentified (courtesy Frank Wilson)

It is also recorded (same source 4) that on the same day R3697 was piloted by F/O. G.H.D. Evans taking off from RAF Eastchurch and that crew escaped injury. Cause of crash - damage to undercarriage hydraulics by ground fire north of Somme and belly landed outside Eastchurch airfield, the aircraft was a write-off.

(1) The nephew of Sgt. William John Wilson would like any relatives to contact us with any further information, he is planning to place a memorial at the spot. The area is currently one of H.M. prisons.

(2) Sgt. Ronald Wilson had a brother L.A.C. Norman Wilson who served with the R.A.F.V.R. Tragically killed on the 5th January 1946 in a rail accident at Browney junction, Co. Durham. 10 others were also killed, 16 injured and many more suffering minor injuries.


Burial details:

P/O. Stanley William Ashton. Swindon (Radnor Street) Cemetery. Plot C, Grave 3524. Wife of Josephine Marjorie Ashton of 8 Shrivenham Road, Swindon, England. Born on 22nd August 1911 in Swindon. Electrician by trade and a former member of Wiltshire Flying Club.

Sgt. William John Wilson. Edgeware (St. Margaret) Churchyard. Son of Edward Henry John and Ellen Emma Wilson. of Edgware

Sgt. Roland Wilson. Ryton Cemetery Sec. G, Grave 111. Son of Thomas W. Wilson and Isabella, brother to Norman and sisters, Annie and Florrie, of 7 Stanhope Street, Greenside, Ryton on Tyne, Co. Durham, England. His brother, Norman, an L.A.C. with the R.A.F.V.R. was killed on the 5th January 1946 as a result of a train crash at Browney Junction, County, Durham.

Researched by Kate Tame for Frank Wilson - nephew of Sgt. William J. Wilson and dedicated to the relatives of the crew. With thanks to Ryton War Memorials, Railway Archives, Graham Warner - 'The Bristol Blenheim' (3), Peter D. Cornwell - 'Battle For France Then and Now' (4) and the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

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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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