10/11th October 1942 149 squadron Stirling I BF348 OJ-P Fl/Sgt. Hart
Date: 10/11th October 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 149 squadron (motto: Fortis Nocte - 'Strong by Night'). 3 Group
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk
Location: Great Cressingham, Norfolk
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Henry John Hart 655066 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alfred Willie Corker 570419 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Lewis John Warren NZ/41632 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Kenneth George Mckenzie NZ/412887 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hugh Clarence Whitwell NZ/412372 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. H. Richard Battrick RAFVR Seriously injured
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry Ian Forsyth Connelly NZ/412887 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 18:52 hrs. to lay mines (Codename: Gardening) in the area of the mouth of the Gironde Estuary in France. Others from the 47 aircraft taking part were detailed to drop at the Bay of Biscay ports and in the area of the Fresian Islands on the Wadden Sea. The pilot made the decision to abort the operation as he felt play in the elevator and aileron.
This was not the usual aircraft flown by the crew which had become unserviceable.
On return they called base and informed them that they are returning but they would first drop the mines. He was anxious to land the enormous Stirling and chose RAF Watton to land as it was closer. The aircraft came in too low and struck trees at 20:20 hrs. On hitting the ground the aircraft exploded and caught fire. miraculously the mid upper gunner, Sgt. Battrick although suffered burns and shock survived. He spent several months in hospital receiving treatment, probably at RAF Ely.
Investigations later stated that the Stirling aircraft had bad aerodynamics and that these were under investigation.
Above as described but showing the immense size of the Stirling
Above: Funerals of the RNZAF crew at Watton (courtesy Janet Scott)
Fl/Sgt. Henry John Hart. Dorchester Cemetery, Dorset. Class A. Grave 2961. Son of Samuel and Bessie Maud Hart, of 13 Lorne Road, Dorchester, Dorset, England.
Sgt. Alfred Willie Corker. Sowerby Bridge Cemetery. Sec. E. Uncons. Grave 660. Husband of Hettie Corker, of Woodhouse, Leicestershire, England.
Sgt. Lewis John Warren. Watton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row C. Grave 67. Born on the 07th July 1918 at Auckland. Prior to service worked as a farm hand for Mrs. A.J. Clements Farms. Enlisted on the 19th January 1941 at Levin. Son of Charles Henry Warren and of Mary Alice Warren (née Taylor), of Waipukurau, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. A total of 346 Flying hours logged an having completed 12 operational sorties. His three other brothers also served, Fl/Sgt. Gordon Howe Warren NZ4212904 a navigator with 75 Squadron and 2 others, Colin and Robert - all surviving the war.
Sgt. Kenneth George Mckenzie. Watton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row C. Grave 66. Born on the 22nd December 1907 at Fortress. A teacher at Te Aute Trust Board. Enlisted on the 23rd November 1940 at Levin. Son of Thomas and Ester McKenzie (née Jennings) and husband of Mary Ella McKenzie (née Girdler), of 31 Beatrice Street, Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand. A total of 346 Flying hours logged an having completed 13 operational sorties.
Sgt. Hugh Clarence Whitwell. Watton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row C. Grave 65. Born on the 14th August 1916 at Henderson. A carpenter for Mr. Troutbeck of Auckland. Enlisted on 13th April 1941 at Levin. Son of Bertram Francis and Janet Whitwell (née Melville), of Tapapa, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 248 Flying hours logged an having completed 13 operational sorties.
Sgt. Harry Ian Forsyth Connelly. Watton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row C. Grave 64. Born on the 21st April 1918 at Wellington. Worked as a warehouseman for Harris Langton Ltd. Enlisted on the 11th May 1941 at Levin. Son of Harry Forsyth Connelly and Doris Connelly (née Buckeridge), of 31 Takutai Street, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 196 Flying hours logged an having completed 14 operational sorties.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Janet Scott, 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: