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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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19.05.1943 No. 310 F.T.U. Wellington HZ437 Sgt. Barnes

Operation: Ferry flight

Date: 19th May 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 310 (F.T.U.) Ferry Training Unit

Type: Wellington Mk.10

Serial: HZ437

Code: ?

Base: RAF Harwell, Buckinghamshire.

Location: 2 miles South East Turweston, Buckinghamshire

Pilot: Sgt. Sydney Roy Barnes 1317678 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: P/O. Harold Geoffrey Allen Thompson 138393 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Robert Allan 1555479 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Raymond Kenneth Van Cleaf J/17409 RCAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward James Roberts 1292360 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

November 2013 - Updated with new information supplied by Stuart Harlow from RAF records. May 2015 - Memorial placed to the crew.

January 2016 - contacted by relatives of the pilot.

January 2018 - Stuart Harlow contacted and informed us that the 'Geographical Names Board' of Ontario, Canada have named a lake after P/O. Raymond Kenneth Van Cleaf in December 2017 - see below.


During a training flight, Wellington HZ437 lost an engine during an overshoot of a landing and spun into the ground near Westbury.

24th May 2015 - Stuart Harlow submitted the photographs of the memorial placed to the crew at the crash site. The Landowner also renamed a farm to 'Red Oak Farm' in memory of the crew. A Canadian Red Oak was planted on the spot. A fine and fitting tribute to the memory of this Wellington crew. (See also below)

The Wellington was new, with just under 8 hours flying time. The port engine failed 30 minutes prior to the accident at 12:45 hrs. Subsequent enquiry discovered that the number 2 cylinder on the port engine suffered shearing to the mounting bolts.

The RAF form 765 (Operational Statistical Returns in War) reported that the crash occurred due to a pilot error of judgement to attempt to go round on the one engine failure following an incorrect approach to the airfield at RAF Turweston.

Area of loss, not an accurate location of crash site. Illustration to assist people who don't know what area of England this tragedy occurred.

Above left: Crew graves at Bicester Cemetery. Right: Grave of Sgt. Edward J. Roberts at Higham Cemetery

Above: Van Cleaf Lake named after P/O. Raymond Kenneth Van Cleaf in December 2017.

Burial details:

Sgt. Sydney Roy Barnes. Bicester Cemetery, Buckinghamshire. Sec B. Cons. Grave 144. Son of Roy Charles and Nellie Rosetta Barnes, of Buckland, Portsmouth, England.

P/O. Harold Geoffrey Allen Thompson. Bicester Cemetery, Buckinghamshire. Sec B. Cons. Grave 146. Son of George William Allen Thompson and Edith Marion Thompson, husband of Marjorie Edith Thompson, of Muswell Hill, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Robert Allan. Bicester Cemetery, Buckinghamshire. Sec B. Cons. Grave 145. Son of Robert and Helen Allan, of Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Left: The 'Red Oak' Wellington Memorial (courtesy Stuart Harlow)

P/O. Raymond Kenneth Van Cleaf. Bicester Cemetery, Buckinghamshire. Sec B. Cons. Grave 147. Son of Carl J. Van Cleaf and Amy Van Cleaf, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Edward James Roberts. Higham (St. Mary) Churchyard. South West corner. Son of Sidney and Mary Annie Roberts, of Higham, Rochester, Kent, England.

Researched and dedicated to Stuart Harlow (relative of P/O. Raymond Van Cleaf), Paul Barnes (father Alan brother of the pilot, Sydney Barnes) who contacted us in January 2016 with information and photograph and to all relatives of this crew, with thanks to Commonwealth War Graves Commission for burial records. Thanks to Margery Bray, the niece of Sgt. Robert Allan, for his photograph. Thanks to Stuart Harlow for the image of Plt..Off.Thompson courtesy of his daughter Gillian Thompson and for the image of Sgt. Roberts courtesy of his Nephew Chris Roberts.

RS 28.10.2019 - Addition of photograph for Sgt. Roberts

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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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Stuart Harlow: I would like to thank 'Aircrew remembered' web site for creating such a great page. Thanks to Kelvin and his staff for replying so fast for the request to enter my cousin and fellow crew members fateful crash during the war. It is a great way to remember these young crews sacrifice made during those dark times.

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