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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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Bomber Command Crest
03/04.01.1943 21 OTU Wellington Ic W5613 Sgt. Clark

Operation: Training

Date: 03/04th January 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 21 Operational Training Unit (91 Group)

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: W5613

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Moreton-In-Marsh, Gloucestershire

Location: Orchardleigh Park, Somerset

Pilot: Sgt. Richard Clark NZ/414252 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Wilson RAFVR - Survived

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Osborne RAFVR - Survived

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur James Cook 1378841 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Perkins 1075785 RAFVR Age 31. Killed


On a night training flight and over Frome flying art 4000 ft. and in cloud the starboard engine began to fail. Sgt. Clark reduced height to 3000 ft. to clear the cloud.

The faulty engine then suddenly backfired and caught fire. The Graviner fire extinguisher system failed to prevent fire from spreading to the wing and so the pilot ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.

Two of the crew managed to do just that and landed without injury - the remaining crew were killed in the crash at Orchardleigh Park in the early hours of the 4th January at 00:25 hrs.

(With regret, we don't have full details of the two crew that survived)

Burial details:

Sgt. Richard Clark. Glasgow Cemetery (Riddrie Park). Sec. E. Grave 4808. Born on the 16th November 1913 at Glasgow, the son of Charles and of Louisa Clark (née Waller) and husband of Winifred Florence Clark (née Williams), of Geraldine, Canterbury, New Zealand. Family moved to New Zealand in 1823. Prior to service a flour miller working for Wood Brothers in Christchurch. A total of 309 flying hours logged.

(note: The CWGC register incorrectly lists his date of death as the 03rd January 1943)

Sgt. Arthur James Cook. Frinton-On-Sea Churchyard (St. Mary). Row C. Grave 26. Son of Clara Isabella Cook and husband of Beryl Trene Cook. Grave inscription: "Always So Thoughtful Unselfish And Kind Few In The World His Equal To Find".

Sgt. William Perkins. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Sec. H. Row V. Grave 255. Son of Edwin Perkins, and of Lottie Mary Perkins, of Sale, Cheshire, England. Formerly of Argentina - left to join the RAFVR on the 14th September 1940. Grave inscription: "He Gave His Strength And His Comeliness For His Country And Is Now Quiet Dust".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew 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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 21.08.2019

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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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