AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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.
Check our Research databases: Database List


We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the Helpdesk.

115 Squadron Crest
14.09.1943 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster B,II DS780 KO-Z Fl/Sgt. Bradford

Operation: Air Test - new aircraft

Date: 14th September 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron 3 Group (motto: 'Despite the elements'). 3 Group

Type: Lancaster B.II

Serial: DS780

Code: KO-Z

Base: RAF Little Snoring, Norfolk

Location: Magdalan - North of Downham Market

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Edward Albert John Bradford NZ/415742 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Murdoch Fearn 1570056 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Harold James Bowen Ashwin 1870675 RAFVR Age 34. Killed (1)

Nav: F/O. Colin Rutherford Morse NZ/422306 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Michael Read RAFVR Age ? Seriously injured - no further details

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ivan John Williamson NZ/416675 Age 21 Seriously injured (2)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Jones 842484 RAF (A) Age 34. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Rex Vernon Griffiths NZ/415077 RNZAF Age 20. Killed


The crew joined the Squadron on the 14th July 1943.

Errol Martyn writes:

Both starboard engines were closed down during feathering practice, but could not be restarted. During an attempted emergency landing in a 300-yard field near Magdalan the aircraft bounced, caught fire and then became airborne again before crashing on a railway embankment on the east bank of the Great Ouse river at 11:15 hrs. 6 of the 8 man crew were killed.

The investigation concluded that the engines could not be restarted as the master fuel cock was closed.

Above the original crew. L - R. Nobby Clark (Fl/Eng), Jack Williamson (W/Op/Air/Gnrr, Colin Morse (Nav), Fred Jones (M/Up/Gnr, Bert Bradford (Pilot), Mick Read (Air/Bmr) Rex Griffiths (Rear A/Gnr).

The ORB states:

"During an air test that started at 10:53 hrs, all was going well until the operation of levelling the bombsight, when the Air Bomber told the Captain to maintain 2,000 feet. The pilot reported an inability to maintain height and ordered the crew to crash stations. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed into a railway embankment at Magdalen (about 4 miles north of RAF Downham Market)".

(1) Sgt. Harold James Bowen Ashwin was on detachment from 1678 Conversion Flight but a serving member of 115 Squadron.

(2) Fl/Sgt. Ian John Williamson survived the crash. Born on the 26th March 1912 the son of Emma and James Williamson and husband of Mrs I.L. Williamson of 76 Cook Street, Auckland, New Zealand. Served with 115 and 75 Squadron and also No. 11 Operational Training Unit as an instructor. The above photo on the right was taken at the RAF Hospital ordered by Sir Arch McIndoe who was using him to further his experiments with saline baths for burns patients. According to him, he was an ideal 'Guinea Pig' not badly enough burned to need skin grafting, of which he was the father. Left the service on the 07th July 1946 as a F/O. and was awarded the DFC on the 20th July 1945. Joined the reserve on the 07th July 1946. Passed away on the 23rd March 1981 at age 69.

He described his experience in Scramble: Memories of the RAF in the Second World War, by Martin Bowman:

'We had 1,500 gallons of high-octane fuel aboard. The fuel tanks exploded on impact and, lit by the engines, became a wall of flaming petrol. The aircraft broke its back just behind the second spar, flipped over the embankment and Sergeant Michael Read, the bomb aimer and myself were airborne for about 70 yards. We passed through the wall of petrol and became flaming torches, landing in a foot of mud, water and lots of bulrushes, where we burned quite furiously'.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Edward Albert John Bradford. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13539. Born on the 25th April 1920 at Auckland. Son of John William and Lottie Florence Bradford, of Norsewood, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 743 flying hours logged with having completed 12 operational sorties.

Sgt. John Murdoch Fearn. Inverness Cemetery (Tomnahurich) Section L.2. Class 1. Grave 233. Son of John (died 1931) and Catherine Grace Fearn (/née Mckenzie - died 1952), of Inverness, Scotland.

Sgt. Harold James Bowen Ashwin. Golders Green Crematorium. Panel 1. Son of Frank Harold Bowen Ashwin and Irene Stewart Beaney Ashwin and husband of Dora Wesley Ashwin, of Kilburn, London, England.

F/O. Colin Rutherford Morse. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13938. Born on the 31st January 1922 at Christchurch. Son of Percy Morse and of Mary Leslie Morse (née Rutherford) of Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Sgt.Frederick Jones. Carshalton Churchyard (All Saints). Section U. Grave 323. Son of Walter and Rosina Jones and husband of Violet Ellen Jones, of North Cheam, London, England. Grave inscription reads: "Loving Memory".

Fl/Sgt. Rex Vernon Griffiths. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13738. 22nd October 1922 at Otahuhu. Son of Edmund Harold Griffiths (died 25th July 1952, age 68) and of Olive Mary Griffiths (née Parker - died 16th September 1953, age 65), of Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 225 flying hours logged with having completed 12 operational sorties.

Researched by Stephen Hunnisett for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Grave photographs courtesy Sam Dorrington,Len and Julie and Keld, 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 thanks to sources as quoted.

SH/KTY 26.01.2019

KTY 10-12-2021 Updated

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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.
Click any image to enlarge it

Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site
If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.

A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2024
Last Modified: 10 December 2021, 16:27

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor