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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
08.11.1944 No. 27 Operational Training Unit Wellington X JA343 Sgt. J.S. Hood

Operation: Training

Date: 08th November 1944 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 27 Operational Training Unit (OTU)

Type: Wellington X

Serial: JA343

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Church Broughton, Derbyshire

Location: Church Broughton, Derbyshire

Pilot: Sgt. John Spurgeon Hood R/188432 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Harold Lawson Fernstrom R/218750 RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. James Frederick Gazzard R/220611 RCAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Athol White AUS/430524 RAAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bernard Ivor Williams 1853012 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Drozdiak R/272259 RCAF Age 18. Killed


Taking off at 19:35 hrs for a night training exercise weather at the base was clear with a risk of showers. Dark with no moon or moon obscured.

Some 20 minutes after take off the aircraft dived into the ground at 19:55 hrs - killing all the crew.

The subsequent enquiry was not conclusive:

"93 Group Accidents Officer reported that he suspected that probably parts of the main planes became detached as a result of a “violent” recovery from a dive. From the evidence available it would appear that the pilot lost control whilst climbing in cloud and from the disposition of the wreckage that the aircraft broke up during a dive whilst trying to recover."

"The loss of control suggests the inability to fly on instruments in cloud, or that the instruments failed. Records do show that the pilot had 'sufficient training' on instruments."

The aircraft had logged a total of 321 hours. Engine 1: Hercules XVI SS13536 380516 - logged 24.55 hrs - installed on the 05th October 1944. Engine 2: Hercules XVI SS9918 376898 - logged 24.40 hrs - installed on the 05th October 1944.

Fernstrom Lake northeast of Lac du Bonnet was named after Sgt. Harold Lawson Fernstrom in 1973.

Burial details:

Sgt. John Spurgeon Hood. Chester Cemetery (Blacon). Sec. A. Grave 101. Son of the Revd. A. Hood, B.D., D.D. and Robina Hood, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Nav: Sgt. Harold Lawson Fernstrom. Chester Cemetery (Blacon). Sec. A. Grave 316. Born in Ridgedale, Saskatchewan the son of Barry John and Lena Marie Fernstrom and brother to Betty and Irene, of Morse Place, Manitoba, Canada. Also his fiancée, Doreen Hitt.

Air/Bmr: Sgt. James Frederick Gazzard. Chester Cemetery (Blacon). Sec. A. Grave 757. Son of James and Bridget Gazzard, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Athol White. Chester Cemetery (Blacon). Sec. A. Grave 402. Born on the 29th September 1922 at Bacchus March, Victoria, Australia, the son of Ernest Albert and Elsie May White, of Tocumwal, New South Wales, Australia.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bernard Ivor Williams. Liskeard Churchyard (St. Martin). Sec. P. Grave 21. Son of James Henry and Elizabeth Jane Williams, of Liskeard, Cornwall, England.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Drozdiak. Chester Cemetery (Blacon). Sec. A. Grave 230. Son of John and Catherine Drozdiak, of Edson, Alberta, Canada.

Researched for William McEwan Howse Jr.. and for relatives of Sgt. Bernard Ivor Williams. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below.

KTY 05.02.2017

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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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