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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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53 Squadron Crest
08.07.1945 53 Squadron Liberator VIII KH183 Fl/Lt. Charles Grayson

Operation: Night Circuit Training

Date: 8 July 1945

Unit: No 53 squadron

Type: Liberator VIII

Serial: KH183

Code: ?

Base: RAF St David’s Airfield

Location: Emlych Farm, near St David’s, Pembrokeshire

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Charles Grayson 46769 RAF Age 32. Killed.

Co-Pilot: Fl/Lt. Thomas Hugh Topping 77664 RAFVR Age 31. Killed.

Fl/Eng: F/O. William George Luigi Mills 56090 RAF Age 29. Killed.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Peter Newton Scott 591873 RAFVR Age 22. Killed.


St David’s Airfield was opened in the summer of 1943. It was one of eight airfields built in Pembrokeshire between 1939 and 1945. In the last months of the war a detachment of 220 Squadron's Liberators was stationed for a time at St David's, followed by the last operational squadron, No 53, also with Liberators.

The aircraft was being used for night circuit training in the early hours of the morning. Two minutes after take off, the holding down studs, securing the number 6 cylinder of the starboard outer engine, sheared and the cylinder detached causing engine failure. It is thought that the pilots did not immediately realise that the engine had failed and they were in the process of reducing power which caused a swing to develop and led to loss of control at low height and speed. The aircraft crashed near Emlych Farm on White Sands Road at 03:25 hrs and was destroyed by fire. This site is now marked with a slate memorial, which was unveiled in July 1995 on the 50th Anniversary of the crash, the commemoration organised by the Pembrokeshire Aviation Group.

As a former Halton Apprentice, or ‘Brat’ as they were affectionately known, Fl/Lt Charles Grayson is included on the Roll of Honour which commemorates the 1,600 apprentices who died during the Second World War. The bound book resides as a permanent archive in a glass cabinet in St George’s Church, Halton, where it was placed following a dedication ceremony conducted on 4 November 2008. The Aircraft Apprentice Scheme was introduced by Lord Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff, at RAF Halton in 1920.

The roll of honour indicates that Fl/Lt Grayson was previously in 228 squadron piloting Short Sunderland V flying boats. The Sunderland V went into production in late 1944 and entered service with 228 and 461 squadrons at Pembroke Dock in February 1945.

The parents of Fl/Sgt Peter Newton Scott tragically lost another son three years earlier - 22 year old, Sgt Donald Keith Newton Scott 1002306 RAFVR, 156 squadron. He was wireless operator/air gunner on Wellington X3706, which took off at 00:27 hours on 30 May 1942 from Alconbury targeting Gennevilliers. The aircraft crashed at Dugny in the northern outskirts of Paris, the cause of the crash is not established. The crew were initially buried at Dugny and were subsequently re-interred in the Viroflay New Communal Cemetery, Yvelines, France.

Fl/Lt Charles Grayson, Lewes Cemetery and Fl/Sgt Peter Newton Scott, Sleaford Cemetery (courtesy Richard Croft)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt Charles Grayson, Lewes Cemetery, Sec J, Grave 3A. Son of Charles Frederick Grayson and Ellen Grayson, of Lewes, husband of Emily Olive Grayson of Pembroke, Wales.

Fl/Lt Thomas Hugh Topping, Haverfordwest (City Road) Cemetery, Uncons, Row 2, Grave 4. Son of Thomas H. and Ethel (née Alker) Topping.

F/O William George Luigi Mills, Haverfordwest (City Road) Cemetery, Cons, Row 2, Grave 2. Son of William Charles Mills and Emma Mills, husband of Rhoda Mills of Inverness, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt Peter Newton Scott, Sleaford Cemetery, Sec AA, Grave 139. Son of Reginald Scott and Alice Scott, of North Rauceby, England.

Researched by Lynn Herron for Aircrew Remembered. With thanks to Mike Smith for details on Fl/Lt. Topping - February 2016. Sources as quoted below.

KT. Page updated with Fl/Sgt Peter Newton Scott, Sleaford Cemetery headstone. 04.05.2016

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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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