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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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RAF Crest
19/20.10.1939 School of Air Navigation Anson I N5055 P/O. Boreham

Operation: Training

Date: 19/20th October 1939 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: School of Air Navigation - 23 Group

Type: Anson I

Serial: N5055

Code: -

Base: RAF St. Athan, Glamorgan, Wales

Location: North Atlantic Ocean off Bud, Cornwall

Pilot: P/O. Joseph Wendell Boreham 39650 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Nav: P/O. Harry James Winch 564413 RAF Safe - injured (1)

Nav: Sgt. Peter Chris Cunningham 580784 RAF Age 21. Safe - injured (2)

W/Op: AC1 Clifford Douglas Bradbury 543861 RAF Age ? Safe - injured (3)


Taking off from RAF St. Athan in Glamorgan to carry out night navigation exercises. Shortly afterwards whilst off Trevose Head whilst flying at about 5,000 ft. the starboard engine failed and the pilot called for a return course to base - requesting to be close to the shore in case of the need to ditch.

Dropping below the clouds at around 1,800 ft he noticed what appeared to be clear stretch of the beach off Bude. He then turned on his landing lights only to discover what he had seen was not the beach but surf - committed now to ditch, he did so with all the crew surviving climbing into the inflated dingy.

However, the crew found no paddles to assist them to make the short distance to the beach, so the pilot returned to the aircraft to find anything suitable. A wave engulfed the aircraft carrying the dingy towards the shore - sadly the pilots body was never recovered.

(1) P/O. Harry James Winch went on to serve with 50 Squadron and survived the war.
(2) Sgt. Peter Chris Cunningham - killed the following year on Wednesday the 01st May 1940, on an operation to Stavanger, Norway. As navigator on 99 Squadron Wellington IC P9276 which came down in the Wash, Norfolk, England with the the loss of all 6 crew.
(3) AC1. Clifford Douglas Bradbury - missing believed killed during training with No. 31 Air Navigation School Port Albert in Canada on Friday the 20th June 1941 after Anson N5343 went down in Lake Huron - all 4 crew lost.

Burial details:

P/O. Joseph Wendell Boreham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 1. Born on the 08th July 1915 at Dunedin, the son of Son of Walter Dennis Boreham and Margaret Boreham of Dunedin, New Zealand. An experienced pilot with a total of 698 flying hours logged.


Sgt. Peter Chris Cunningham. Edlesborough Churchyard (St. Mary) Son of Chris Angus Cunningham and Dorothy Gilmore Cunningham, of Northall, Buckinghamshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Remembered Always".

Cpl. Clifford Douglas Bradbury. Ottawa Memorial Panel 1. Column 1. No further details - are you able to assist?

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 Frank Harper, Dave Cross and RAF Davidstow Memorial Museum for further details, other sources as quoted below:

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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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