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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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75 Squadron crest
16/17.12.1942 No. 75 Squadron Stirling I R9245 AA-N Sgt. Benjamin A. Franklin

Operation: Gardening

Date: 16/17th December 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: R9245

Code: AA-N

Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk

Location: Base - RAF Newmarket

Pilot: Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin NZ/414277 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William (Bill) Joseph Lawrence R/70294 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Nav: Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe NZ/41561 RNZAF Age 32. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Edgar William Harvey NZ/41902 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch NZ/41709 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tom Pascoe 1308491 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric James Burbridge 1392526 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Update:- 23d February 2016 - a memorial plaque is to be unveiled at the crash site - 75 Squadron (NZ) Association are appealing for relatives of the crew to contact us to make them aware of the dedication ceremony later this year.


Shortly after take off at 22:11 hrs from RAF Newmarket in Suffolk, England to lay mines off Bordeaux, the Stirling clipped its starboard wheel on the top of Devils Dyke and following this, engine failure. Out of control, the bomber spun into the ground at 22:12 hrs, coming down about a mile from the airfield. Five other aircraft waiting to take off had their missions cancelled.

Sgt. Burbridge and his new bride Freda, with friends, all air gunners, at his wedding - can you name them? (courtesy Eric Baker)

Devils Dyke. The Dyke stretches in a near perfect straight line for 7 ½ miles (12 km) from the Fen edge at Reach, across the open chalk landscape near Newmarket and towards the more wooded landscape on the clay ridges, ending at Ditton Green. (photo courtesy of James Fisher)

Sgt. Edgar William Harvey's grave lies in a very small churchyard in Lakenham, Norwich. Cpl. Dee Boneham who lived near to the church, visited the grave and noticed the original plaque had become damaged. As this airman’s grave was so far from home, she generously decided to replace the plaque.

Kelvin Youngs (webmaster) visited the grave in August 2009 to make sure the plaque was still in place and the grave was in good order. We have made all the pictures taken, available to 75 Squadron Association, with a view that they are able to forward to the surviving relatives in New Zealand.

Mr. Eric Baker being his nephew, recently visited the grave of Sgt Burbridge. (shown above, before and after) Finding it in a poor condition, he decided to contact us for advice.

Following our advice, he then wrote to the Commonwealth Graves Commission in order that he could take it upon himself to clean the grave.
Having received expert instructions on how he should go about it, he returned to clean up the headstone and the immediate area.
An effort to be applauded, we feel, going about this task totally the correct way. He has also advised the Commission the inscription has deteriorated and awaits further news.

Some of the crew graves at Newmarket - if any relative would like a higher resolution, please contact us. (archives)

Burial details:

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin. Newmarket Cemetery Plot P. Grave 434. Son of Philip and Henretta Franklin, of Mount Eden, Auckland City, New Zealand.

Sgt. William (Bill) Joseph Lawrence. Newmarket Cemetery Plot P. Grave 449. Son of Joseph and Edith Lawrence, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe. Newmarket Cemetery Plot O. Grave 399. Son of Eric Whitcombe and of Jane Morton Whitcombe (nee Henderson), of Pahiatua, Wellington, New Zealand.

Sgt. Edgar William Harvey. Lakenham (St. John the Baptist and all Saints) Churchyard. Sec. E.Grave 25. Son of John Lambert Harvey and Sarah Harvey, of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand, husband of Josephine Emma Harvey. of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch. Newmarket Cemetery Plot P. Grave 417. Son of Harold Lawrence Vere Welch and May Welch, of Taradale, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

Sgt. Tom Pascoe Ashburton (St Andrew) Churchyard Extension Grave A.3. Son of Vivian and Elizabeth Pascoe, of Ashburton, Devon, England.

Left: Grave of Sgt. Pascoe (courtesy of Rob Pearson who sent this into us via our help desk 2014)

Sgt. Eric James Burbridge. Wandsworth (Streatham) Cemetery Block 12. Grave 300. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Burbridge, husband of Freda Joan Burbridge, of Streatham, England.

Researched by Cpl. Dee Boneham for relatives of the crew. Dee spends many hours supporting various charities and bringing various losses to the attention of many.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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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