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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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28/29th June 1942 11 OTU Wellington IC X3173 Sgt. Elliott

Operation: Training

Date: 28/29th June 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 11 Operational Training Unit. 91 Group

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: X3173

Code: KY-M

Base: RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: Ashwell

Pilot: Sgt. John Elliott 1271235 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Obs: Sgt. Sydney Armory NZ/405217 RNZAF Age 26. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Keith Alexander Hendry NZ/404361 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Desmond Percy Wadey NZ/412371 RNZAF Age 25. Injured (note)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Edward Coles NZ/40161 RNZAF Age 28. Injured (1)


Taking off from the satellite base at RAF Steeple Morden on a night circuit and landings exercise.

In the half light of dawn the port engine reduction gear casing cut through which led to the loss of the propeller. During attempts to lower the undercarriage by emergency means as X3173 orbited to airfield and on the 3rd circuit at 04:10 hrs the aircraft stalled and crashed at the same location near Ashwell where Wellington IC R1445 crashed the previous evening. (Details of that incident)

The aircraft caught fire killing 3 of the crew.

Sgt Desmond was taken to the RAF hospital with serious chest injuries whilst Sgt. Thomas Coles was treated at the station sick quarters for abrasions and shock.

Above: Course 10a, Y squad, No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School,February 1941.

Rear L-R:; Keith Hugh Fraser NZ/405249, W.H Ganderton, John Lowrie NZ/405290- killed 28th August 1942, Sydney Armory NZ/405217 - killed 29th June 1942, Thomas John Elliot NZ/404346 PoW - died 28th March 2006.
Centre; D.L Davies, R.W King, K.H Gregory, Noel Clement Holmes NZ/404988 - -died 02nd October 1992, Donald Irvine Grant NZ/405255 - killed 19th July 1944, George Russell Dickson NZ/405261, Franklyn Bertram Cran NZ/405237 - killed 28th March 1942.
Front; J.D.M Herron, Douglas Lawrence Knobloch NZ/405287 - killed 27th August 1944, Leslie George Raymond Donaldson NZ/03rd February 1942, T.E Ainger, John Justin Neville McCarthy NZ/401470 - killed 24th July 1942, George Walter Fielding NZ/405245, Francis Campbell Carswell NZ/404457 - died 19th October 2008.

(1) Sgt. Thomas Edward Coles - killed on the 07th September 1942 whilst with 75 (NZ) squadron. On Wellington III BJ765 AA-L on a trip to Duisburg. Further information here.

Burial details:

Sgt. John Elliott. Edmonton Cemetery, Middlesex. Grave Sec. K. Grave 1958. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Elliott, of Winchmore Hill, Enfield, London, England.

Sgt. Sydney Armory. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery. Grave Row FF. Grave 8. Born on the 10th August 1915 at Chopwell, County Durham, England. Left for New Zealand at an early age. Worked as a fitter for Barrytown Gold Dredging Company. Served in territorial army for 5 years (1930-35), Enlisted at Levin on the 22nd December 1940 as a pilot.Trained at No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School but pilot training terminated on the 03rd March 1941 and commenced training as an observer.

Embarked for Canada on the 16th June 1941. Air observers badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 08th March 1941. Embarked for England on the 08th January 1942. Further training with No. 2 Advanced Flying Unit on the 20th March 1942 and No. 11 Operational Training Unit on the 28th April 1942. Son of Joseph Henry and Isabella (née Hewson - later Wafer, of Runanga, Westland, New Zealand. A total of 206 flying hours logged.

Sgt. Keith Alexander Hendry. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery. Grave Row FF. Grave 9. Born on the 29th October 1916 at Lyttelton. Worked as a store man for H.I. Rhind and Company at Lyttelton. Enlisted at Levin on the 24th November 1940 as a pilot. Trained at No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School but pilot training terminated in February 1941 and commenced training as an observer.

Embarked for Canada on the 18th June 1941. Air observers badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 08th November 1941. Embarked for England on the 08th January 1942. Further training with No. 2 Advanced Flying Unit on the 21st March 1942 and No. 11 Operational Training Unit on the 28th April 1942. Son of Thomas died June 1957 and Jean Hendr - died May 1967), of Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand.


(1) Sgt. Thomas Edward Coles. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16. F. 11. Born on the 09th July 1914 at Wellington. Worked as a warehouseman for Joseh Lucas at Auckland. Enlisted on the 12th January 1940. Initial training at No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School joining on the 01st March 1940. Embarked for Canada on the 18th June 1941. Awarded air gunner badge and promoted to sergeant 16th March 1942.

Embarked for England on the 01st April 1942. After serving with various units joined 11 Operational Training Unit on the 28th April 1942. Slightly injured in aircraft crash when Wellington IC X3173 stalled and came down near Ashwell, Hertfordshire on the 29th June 1942 (3 crew killed). Joined 75 squadron on the 12th August 1942. Son of Thomas (died 22nd April 1961, age 85) and Margaret Ann Joseph Coles (née De Freitas - died 25th May 1955 - both buried at Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson), of Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 66 flying hours logged and on his 02nd operational sortie.


Desmond Percy Wadey - born on the 26th September 1917, survived the war. Retired as a Fl/Lt. on the 26th September 1972. Died on the 28th March 1983, age 63, buried on the 08th April 1983 at Aramoho Cemetery, Whanganui, New Zealand. Son of George Wadey (died 05th May 1938, age 48) and Ethel Elizabeth Wadey (née Paul - died 17th December 1953, age 64), husband of Eileen Elizabrth Wadey (died 01st June 2004, age 87)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 24-11-2021

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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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