16.07.1941 No. 22 Squadron Beaufort 1a L9791 OA-Q F/Sgt. David Brett
Date: 16 July 1941
Unit: No. 22 Squadron (Coastal Command) - Motto: Preux et audicieux (Valiant and Brave)
Badge: On a Torteaux, a Maltese Cross throughout, overall a 'pi' fimbriated - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936. The Greek sign 'pi' denotes the Squadron's service in France with the 7th Wing, the pilots often taking off over the Wing's HQ - hence the 22 over 7, or 'pi'. When the badge was approved, the Squadron was based in Malta, which accounts for the inclusion of the Cross.
Type: Bristol Beaufort 1c
Base: RAF Thorney Island, West Sussex
Location: Beddingham Hill, Beddingham, East Sussex
Pilot: F/Sgt. David Brett 742065 RAFVR Age 24 - Killed
Obs: Sgt. George Adam (Toddy) Todd 989694 RAFVR Age 25 - Killed
W/Op: Sgt. Robert Ernest George Williams 915498 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Neville Arnold Foster Folkard 958778 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed
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REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Thorney Island, West Sussex at 03:05 hours on a shipping strike. At 04:38 hours in dense fog the aircraft crashed into the side of Beddingham Hill at Beddingham, a village in East Sussex some 45 miles due east of Thorney Island. The aircraft was reported to have been completely smashed and burnt out. The four crew members were all dead, one body remained in the cockpit, the other three having been thrown clear of the aircraft.
The six High Explosive bombs on board were found scattered on the downs in the vicinity of the aircraft and remained unexploded, a military guard being posted by Bombardier Carter of the 325 Searchlight Regiment from the nearby village of Firle.
The bodies of the crew were later removed and taken to RAF Thorney Island and on 17 July a Bomb Disposal Squad defused and removed the unexploded bombs from the area; there was no other damage or casualties.
The circumstances leading to the loss are not known but it is understood that a number of Direction Finding fixes had been passed.
Photograph: Courtesy Leigh Lawson.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) F/Sgt. David Brett was born at Romford, Essex in 1916 the son of Frederick James Brett and Agnes Annie Brett nee Farley later of Ilford, Essex.
(2) Sgt. George Adam (Toddy) Todd was born at Morpeth, Northumberland in 1915 the son of John Todd and Ethel Constance Todd nee Hay of East Chevington, husband of Elizabeth Todd nee Campbell of Alnmouth, Northumberland. From October 1940 to January 1941 he was at No. 1 Air Observer Navigation School at Rosemount House, RAF Prestwick and whilst there he befriended Leslie Speller, the subject of a forthcoming feature on Aircrew Remembered. They continued their training together at No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School at RAF Evanton near Inverness, Scotland until April 1941. Leslie Speller hailed from Littlehampton barely 30 miles from Beddingham where his pal "Toddy"lost his life. (Photograp: Courtesy Leigh Lawson)
In the first three months of 1941 dear old Toddy married Elizabeth Campbell at Northumberland. The following extract from a letter written by his friend Leslie Speller whilst a PoW to his girlfriend on 27 November 1941 refers to the event and though he had clearly received news of Toddy's crash it seems that he was unaware of his tragic death.
'...When I am
alone I think of all sorts of things, mostly of happy times I spent at home -
so of course you are included very frequently - but sometimes I recall
incidents during my training - of days in Paignton or Prestwich or Evanton. I
remember some of the very grand fellows I met at different places, of how one
day we walked to Troon - another of a Saturday afternoon & evening in
Inverness - & then I think of how many of those fellows are now missing: my
best friend, until I left him on going to Bicester, was married shortly
afterwards. I received some of his wedding cake only a few weeks ago, sadly
crumbled in the post & just a little bit stale - but I ate it just the same
as I had learned a short time before that he had had a very bad crash, & I
don't know whether he has recovered or no. My best friend at Bicester is also
missing and so the sorry tale goes on."
George Todd is commemorated on the Chevington and Broomhill District War Memorial, Northumberland.
(3) Sgt. Robert Ernest George Williams was born in 1920 at Melksham, Wiltshire the son of Ernest Samuel and Mabel Emily Williams nee Pearce, of Melksham, Wiltshire
(4) Sgt. Neville Arnold Foster Folkard was born in 1920 at Norwich the son of Sydney Robert Folkard and Hilda Ada Folkard nee Foster of Norwich.
Prior to volunteering for the air force he was an employee of the Railway Passengers Assurance Company at Norwich and is commemorated on the Aviva Roll of Honour.
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS:
F/Sgt. David Brett was buried at St. Nicholas Churchyard, West Thorney, West Sussex. Plot 1. Row D. Grave 4.
Sgt. George Adam Todd was buried at Chevington Cemetery, Northumberland. Section A. Grave 312
At the going down
Of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember him
Sgt. Robert Ernest George Williams was buried at Melksham Church Cemetery,Wiltshire - SW Part.
Till the day break
And the shadows flee away
Sgt. Neville Arnold Foster Folkard was buried at Norwich Cemetery, Norfolk - Section 48. Grave 361
His lovely youth
He laid on England's shrine
For freedom's sake
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - March 2016
With thanks to the sources quoted below.