27.04.1944 401 Squadron Spitfire IX MJ982 Fg Off. Wesley E. Cummings
Operation: Granville Bridge
Date: 27th April 1944 (Thursday)
Unit No: 401 Squadron (The Rams) RCAF, 126 Wing, 83 group, 2nd Tactical Air Force.
Type: Spitfire IX
Serial: MJ982 *
Base: RAF Tangmere, West Sussex
Location: Montchaton, France
Pilot: Fg Off. Wesley Elmore 'Bill' Cummings J20014 RCAF Age 21. KiA
* Spitfire MJ982 - Built at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory - fitted with the Merlin 66 engine
We are extremely grateful to François Dutil (438 Squadron Archivist) for supplying photographs and information to Aircrew Remembered in October 2017. All photographs shown within this page are available to relatives at a higher resolution (as are most of those named within this page) - courtesy of François.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The squadron took off at 12:30 hrs on a mission to dive-bomb a bridge at Pont de la Roque, near Coutances. Fg.Off. Cummings did not recover from the dive after releasing his single 500 lb MC bomb on the road bridge, and was last seen diving past the vertical apparently out of control. He crashed near Montchaton which just over 1 km due south of the bridge.
Note: The squadron ORB records that the target was a railway bridge, however, research has determine that the bridge was in fact a road bridge.
Information provided by Sean Claxton from a letter send to Fg Off. Cummings' mother, described that "Fg Off. 'Bill' Kiersey was just behind Fg Off. Cummings, and saw him start to pull out of his dive and then suddenly steepen it again. That is all we knew, but he never rejoined the Squadron when we pulled up".
24 year old, Fg Off. Clifford Donald Cross J10826 RCAF (below) from 411 Squadron in Spitfire MJ140 was also hit during the same attack and was forced to bale out at very low altitude off Selsey. His parachute failed to open and broke both his legs and suffered severe back injuries on hitting the water. He was rescued by a Corvette.
He did return to service but later died at home in Canada during a rest leave - (understood to be from self inflicted injuries) - his brother, 19 year old Glenn Morton Cross was killed just two days previously. Rifleman Glenn Cross B149901 of the Queens Own Rifles, Canada is buried at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.
Fg Off. Wesley Elmore Cummings. Lessay Communal Cemetery. Row B. Grave 2. Grave inscription: “CHERISHED MEMORIES OF OUR SON "BILL" WHO GAVE HIS LIFE THAT WE MIGHT LIVE”. Born on the 29th June 1922 in Chapleau, Ontario. Son of George Howard and Kate Louisa (née Rose) Cummings, of North Bay, Ontario, Canada.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Francois Dutil. Thanks to Sean Claxton for the correction to the type of target and additional information regarding the loss of Fg Off. Cummings (Sep 2020).
Other sources listed below: