27.02.1945 No. 20 OTU Wellington X LN557 P/O. Sydney J. Carthy DFC
Date: 27th February 1945 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 20 OTU (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Lossiemouth
Location: Seatown, Lossiemouth, Scotland.
Pilot: P/O. Sydney John Carthy DFC 187561 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Pilot 2: F/O. Charles Frank Last 172776 RAFVR Age 27. Killed (1)
Pilot (U/T): P/O. Kenneth Roy Tatham 188539 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Bmr: W/O. William Ewart Fielder 1602338 RAFVR Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Mellor 1813406 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Anthony Arthur Pardoe 2220654 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. C.R. Ormond RAFVR Survived - badly injured
Loss of Wellington LN557 has been researched by Mr. Jim Dartnall and submitted to us in March 2015.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the 27th February 1945 at 21:32 hours a Wellington bomber serial number LN557 of 20 OTU took off on a night exercise from runway 29 heading east and suffered and engine failure on take-off. Three minutes later at 21:37 hours, the pilot radioed in “Coming straight in to land on a wide circuit” and with her port engine stopped she dived into and crashed in Seatown narrowly missing the general merchants store occupied by Mr. John Hendry an ex Highland League footballer, immediately on impact it burst into flames and her bullets started to cook and explode. The dwelling house at number 18 was badly damaged and three outhouses were totally demolished.
Mr. George Stewart skipper of the local fishing boat “Ivy”, INS 248 was in his house at number 18 with his wife and family when the crash occurred. His four children and a niece who was sleeping over for the night were all in bed but not asleep. He opened his door to investigate, the flames swept past him into the kitchen, with bullets exploding all around, he immediately rushed back inside, smashed a small bedroom window with his fist and got the bairns out to safety. Luckily they all escaped without a scratch but only managed to save their clothing but none of their personal effects and most of their furniture was destroyed by fire and water damage.
Mrs. Stewart and the children Davidson (17) who worked on board the “Ivy” with his father; George (15) a fish worker; Margaret (10) and Nan (6); and their cousin Margaret Stewart aged (8) who was with them for the night. After their ordeal they were accommodated at Mr Stewarts parent’s home at nearby 29 Seatown.
A large number of people from Lossiemouth and practically the whole population of Seatown gathered to watch the efforts of the rescue party from the National Fire Brigade with tenders from Lossiemouth and Elgin, who did a magnificent job containing and extinguishing the fire by midnight. The plane was burnt out and reduced to a mass of tangled wreckage.
The six members of the crew that were killed, were recovered shortly before midnight and transferred to the Chapel of Ease at the end of Church Street. They were later identified as shown below, the rear air gunner Sgt C.M. Ormond who was thrown clear, assisted into one of the fishermen’s house and survived although in a dangerous condition.
The crash site was surrounded by buildings on three sides and electrical cables on one side. According to eye witness reports it would appear that the pilot controlled his aircraft crash landing onto a clear piece of ground just large enough to hold it! However had the wind been blowing from the opposite direction, many houses in the Seatown of Lossiemouth would in all probability have been burnt to the ground. The red telephone box in Seatown was erected to improve communications in any future emergency.
The crash is believed to have been investigated by RAF Air Accident Investigation Officer, Flight Lieutenant Lawrence Franklin Tichborne the father of Roger Tichborne who kindly provided the above photograph. More details of Fl/Lt. Lawrence Tichborne can be found here
(1) F/O. Last had an earlier lucky escape whilst with 40 Squadron. On Wellington Ic HE107 during the night of 2/3rd January 1943 they were hit by flak, taking out the engines the crew were forced to bale out - all the crew survived. He had also served with 90 Squadron in the Middle East.
P/O. Sydney John Carthy DFC. Camberwell Crematorium (Honor Oak). Screen Wall. Panel 3. Son of Charles Alfred and Margaret ‘Lil’ Carthy (née Green), of Bexley, Kent, England. Born: 29th June 1922 at 23 Welbeck Road, East Ham, Essex
F/O. Charles Frank Last. Erith Cemetery (Brook Street). Sec M. Grave 1207. Son of Frank Henry and Annie Laurie Last, of Erith, husband of Gladys Muriel Last, of Barnehurst, England.
P/O. Kenneth Roy Tatham. Lossiemouth Burial Ground. Grave 1266. Son of Harry and Phyllis S. Tatham, husband of Enid K. Tatham, of Whitkirk, Yorkshire, England.
W/O. William Ewart Fielder. Lossiemouth Burial Ground. Grave 1246. Son of William Edward and Mary Elizabeth Fielder, husband of Mary Phyllis Fielder, of Southsea, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. John Mellor. New Southgate Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 1583. Son of John William and Marianne Mellor, of Friern Barnet, Middlesex, England.
Sgt. Anthony Arthur Pardoe. Lossiemouth Burial Ground. Grave 1247. Son of George William and Hilda Mary Pardoe, of Yardley, Birmingham, England.
Page researched and submitted to Aircrew Remembered in March 2015 by Mr. Jim Dartnall ex RAF, researching losses in this area.