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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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RAF Crest
15/16.04.1945 No. 11 Operational Training Unit Wellington X LP609 W/O. Erskine

Operation: Training

Date: 15/16th April 1945 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 11 Operational Training Unit (92 Group)

Type: Wellington X

Serial: LP609

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Oakley - RAF Westcott, Buckinghamshire

Location: NNE Oakley, Buckinghamshire

Pilot: W/O. William Erskine 1365096 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Pilot U/T: Fl/Sgt. John Powell Redpath NZ/428253 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Colin William Burt NZ/4312163 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Thomas Matthews NZ/428141 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Christian Hope 2210185 RAFVR Age 23. Killed


Taking off from RAF Oakley, which was a satellite base of RAF Westcott in Buckinghamshire on a night flying operation.

At 00:38 hrs they were struck by another Wellington (LP651) which was coming in for landing. It seems that immediately prior to impact that pilot, F/O. Colin Roy Baker DFC. had received instructions from flying control to overshoot.

With the tragic loss of some 12 aircrew (9 of these from New Zealand) this is the worst single accident within 11 Operational Training Unit of the war. It seems that perhaps the blame lay with Flying Control, RAF Oakley at the airfield.

Burial details:

The New Zealand crew members were buried at Oxford Cemetery (Botley) on the 20th April, with full military honours. The RAF crew members were taken to their homes in Glasgow and Liverpool for burial.

W/O. William Erskine. Cambuslang Cemetery (Westburn). Grave 6321. Son of William and Jessie McLean Carlton Erskine, of Cambuslang, Glasgow, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "He Died That We Might Live".

Fl/Sgt. John Powell Redpath. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 206A. Born on the 03rd September 1922 at Amberley, Christchurch, the son of Charles Aitcheson Redpath and of Esther Redpath (née Goldien), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 340 flying hours logged.

Fl/Sgt. Colin William Burt. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 206B. Son of Oliver Charles and Louisa Dorothy Burt, of 11 Buckley Street, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Initially served with the Army as a Temporary Bombadier in the South Pacific, prior to his enlistment in the RNZAF in 1943. A total of 145 flying hours logged.

Fl/Sgt. George Thomas Matthews. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 201. Son of George and Kapua Rapiha Matthews, of Kauangaroa and husband of Nada Elaine Matthews (née Wynder), of Kauangaroa, Wellington, New Zealand, but it seems formerly from Cardston, Alberta, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Arthur Christian Hope. Liverpool Cemetery (Toxteth Park). Sec. 2. Cons. Grave 174. Son of Samuel Richard and Annie Hope, Liverpool, England. Grave inscription reads: "For Ever In Our Hearts".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot 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, also to Steve Potts for grave photos. Other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 17.12.2017

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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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