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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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17.11.1942 No. 11 O.T.U. Wellington IC X9614 F/O. Francis S. Haden

Operation: Training

Date: 17th November 1942 (Tuesday)

Unit: 11 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: X9614

Code: B

Base: RAF Westcott, Buckinghamshire

Location: Woodside Farm 2.5 miles North of Airfield

Pilot: F/O. Francis Seymour Haden NZ/404867 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Ronald James Walker 1232380 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: P/O. William Roderick Taylor 127981 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ivor Pestell Bygraves 1330553 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. D.S. Williams RAFVR Seriously injured (1)


Took-off at 11.30 hrs from RAF Westcott but as the aircraft became airborne the port engine burst into flames, the pilot F/O. Haden tried to force-land the aircraft straight ahead.

11 OTU No. 60 Course:

Front: Sgt. Oxtoby, Sgt. Percival, Sgt. Webb, Sgt. Bannan, Sgt. Tyne, Ponce, Sgt. Williams, Sgt. White, Sgt. Baswarick, Sgt. Wale, Sgt. Johnson, Sgt. Wright, Sgt. Flynn, Sgt. Connor.
2nd Row: P/O. Totty, Sgt. Uden, Sgt. Wheeler, Sgt. Scarvell, Sgt. Wilson, Sgt. Macdonald, Sgt. Ridd, Sgt. Walker, Sgt. Thomas, Sgt. Verrall, Sgt. Mathews, Sgt. Honey, Sgt. Stuart, Sgt. Rendall, Sgt. Phair, Sgt. O’Kane.
3rd Row: P/O. Williams, Sgt. Stewart, Sgt. Berryman, Sgt. Furner, Sgt. Harris, Sgt. Simpson, Sgt. Taylor, Sgt. Hall, Sgt. Minton, Sgt. Morse, Sgt. Wooldridge, P/O. Sutton, Sgt. Grainger, P/O. Clare, P/O. Stitt, P/O. Reid.
4th Row: P/O. Boswell, Sgt. Arbutt, Sgt. H.E. Jones, Sgt. W.T. Jones, Sgt. Partner, P/O. Palmer, Sgt. Scarlett, Sgt. Dennis, Sgt. Shankland, Sgt. Farrant, Sgt. McDonald, Sgt. Slade, P/O. Adams, P/O. Winchester, P/O. Walker, P/O. Booth.
5th Row: Sgt. Williams, Sgt. Boyd, Sgt. Goode, Sgt. Burson, Sgt. Bygrave, Sgt. Anderson, Sgt. Howell, Sgt. Boxell, Sgt. cole, Sgt. Wilford, Sgt. Cork. (courtesy David Champion)

Unfortunately, some trees lay in his path and while trying to lift the Wellingtons nose to clear these obstructions, he lost control and crashed. P/O. Williams was admitted to Princess Mary's Hospital, Halton.

Sgt. Noel Edward Langton from the Royal Artillery was awarded the BEM for his attempts to rescue the crew from the burning aircraft. He pulled out P/O. Williams, smothering the air gunners clothes which were on fire before returning to pull out 3 other crew, sadly already dead. With thanks to Patrick Croker for sending us this information and the newspaper cutting from the ’Nottingham Post dated 21st April 1943.

Above left: F/O. Francis Seymour Haden. Centre: Sgt. Ronald James Walker with his fiancee Minnie and and adopted half brother, taken at their home in 1942 (courtesy Roy Walker) Right: Newspaper report on Sgt. Langton (courtesy Patrick Croker)

Funeral of F/O. Haden in Westcott Churchyard. The Naval Officer (in black) is F/O. Haden's brother.

(1) P/O. David Stuart Williams was treated at Halton Hospital for severe burns. Sadly the then F/O. Williams was to lose his life the following year on the 28th May 1943. Flying as an Air Gunner on Lancaster II DS655 KO-M with 115 Squadron. On an operation to Essen when they were hit by flak over the target area. (The pilot survived but 6 of the crew were killed)

Burial Details:

F/O. Francis Seymour Haden. Westcott (St. Mary) Churchyard. Grave No.1. Son of Harry Frank and Jane Lydia Haden, husband of Joan Mary Haden (née Laffey) of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Sgt. Ronald James Walker. Thorne Cemetery. Grave 175. Son of William James and Mary Ellen Walker, of 2 Ashfield Avenue, Kirton Lane, Thorne, Yorkshire, England. Enlisted 1940 - Educated at Thorne Senior Boys School - also commemorated on the Thorne War Memorial.

P/O. William Roderick Taylor. Westcott (St. Mary) Churchyard. Grave No.2. Son of Bertram Searson and Ethel Taylor, of of Byron House, The Park, Ealing, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Ivor Pestell Bygraves. Romford Cemetery. Sec. B. Grave 39. Son of Harold and Gertrude Bygraves, of 146 Marlborough Road, Romford, Essex, England.

Later: F/O. David Stuart Williams. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Joint grave 19.F.15. Son of Mrs. K. Williams of 21 Westcliffe Road, Southport, Lancashire, England.

With thanks to Roy Walker who contacted us in January 2017. Roy, who was 3 at the time the photo shown above was taken, is the half brother of Sgt. Walker. Thanks also to Thorne Local History Group for grave photo. Also to David Champion for course photo and further details information. Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 15.01.2017 Page updated

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