Date: 27/28th October 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: At base, RAF Waterbeach
Pilot: F/O. John Hamilton Bomford NZ/413808 RNZAF Age 24. Seriously injured
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alan Ernest Mason 575569 RAF Age 19. Seriously injured
Nav: F/O. Albert William McLean NZ/411724 RNZAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Arthur Ferdinand Koehn J/10411 RCAF Age 20. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Henry Turner NZ/411475 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. H. Kenny RAFVR Injured
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Spendlove Dean NZ/403760 RNZAF Age 22. Seriously injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off on a night navigation exercise but had to return when one of the engines malfunctioned.
The pilot then attempted a landing back at the base. The aircraft touched down but bounced slightly running down the airfield. The pilot decided to overshoot and go around again.
The aircraft climbed steeply but then stalled and spun into the ground on the airfield. Rescue units arrived very quickly and attempted to remove the crew from the fiercely burning wreckage, all conscious of the fuel load and ammunition exploding. Sq/Ldr. Charles Lofthouse (1) who was acting at the time as night duty pilot played a key role in removing some of the crew for which he was awarded the OBE.
The injured were taken to RAF Ely hospital where sadly 3 of them died from their injuries later that day.
(1) Sq/Ldr. Charles Lofthouse OBE. DFC. 67052 RAF was later shot down and became a PoW No. 12719 at Stalag Luft Sagan where he used his skills as a draughtsman to enable others to make an escape. He passed away age 80 on the 06th October 2002.
F/O. John Hamilton Bomford. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14734. Son of Dr. William Harold Bomford and Bessie Kathleen Bomford, of 9 Madeira Lane, Khyber Pass, Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 354 flying hours with 180 solo and 19 on the Stirling. His older brother 29 year old, Cpl. Stephen Robert William Bomford 38205 was also to lose his life on the 21st October 1943 whilst serving with the New Zealand Medical Corps in Egypt.
Sgt. Alan Ernest Mason. Stockton-On-Tees Cemetery (Durham Road). Sec. L.1. C. of E. Row N. Joint grave 35. Son of Ernest Albert and Ellen Mason, of Stockton-on-Tees, England. The family also lost his brother, Cpl. Leonard George Mason later in the war. A tragic loss of life when Liberator JT985 crashed shortly after take off with the loss of all five crew and 22 passengers on the 15th June 1945. The brothers share the same grave.
F/O. Albert William McLean. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14737. Son of Albert William McLean, and of Elspeth Aldie McLean, of Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 260 flying hours logged and completed 2 operational sorties.
F/O. Arthur Ferdinand Koehn. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14738. Son of William F. Koehn and Ramona N. Koehn, of 5721 Plantagenet Avenue, Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada.
Sgt. Ernest Henry Turner. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14735. Son of Ernest Edward and Lucy Mildred Turner, of 82 Masden Street, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand.
Fl/Sgt. Frederick Spendlove Dean. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14733. Son of Frederick and Helen Dean and nephew of Mrs. A. Atkinson, of 57 Wallace Street, Wellington City, New Zealand. A total of 184 flying hours logged.
Cpl. Stephen Robert William Bomford. Moascar War Cemetery, Egypt. Grave 1.D.8. Next of kin details as his brother above.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, also to Dimitrios Corcodilos and Len for the grave photographs, Mike McQuaid for information on Sgt. Alan Ernest Mason, other sources as quoted below:
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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