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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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18 Squadron crest
18.07.1942 No 18 Squadron Blenheim IV Z7304 P/O. Philip Lowther

Operation: Air Test

Date: 18th July 1942 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 18 Squadron

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: Z7304

Code: WV-?

Base: RAF Wattisham, Suffolk

Location: Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk

Pilot: P/O. Philip Henry Lowther 104490 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Observer: Sgt. Kenneth Custance Ellis 1259306 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

W/Op/Air/ Gnr: Sgt. George Bernard Crawford 1178840 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Passenger: Mr. Kenneth T. Tagg Civilian Meteorologist Age 18. Killed


During an air test and flying in poor visibility the Blenheim IV crashed into a radar pylon at Stoke Holy Cross (Poringland, Norwich) at 15.00 hrs.

Also it is thought that the pilot had an earlier narrow escape flying a 1444 FTF Hudson during a spectacular crash landing at Arminghall, Norfolk. Amazing in that Sgt. Crawford survived a crash of another Blenheim IV Z7283 earlier that year on 9th June at 00.15 hrs. during a night training exercise. (1)

Mr Kenneth T. Tagg a Civilian Meteorologist accompanied the flight for some air experience. He is buried in Norwich, but very sadly he does not have a headstone, neither is he listed by the CWGC as a civilian casualty?

After extensive research a local man Mr Derek Bales arranged a memorial to the crew at the crash site and as it still belonged to the RAF they finally gave permission for it to be placed at the foot of the Pylon. Derek contacted the Aircrew Remembered to inform us of this memorial and we offered to place it on our website in recognition of his fine work. Derek Bales lives in Stoke Holy Cross and also witnessed the crash back in 1942.

(1) Blenheim IV Z7283 Flown by Sgt. John Kenneth Jones and his observer Sgt. Herbert Dawson were killed when one of the engines began to misfire and Sgt. Jones ordered the crew to bail out but as the aircraft was now below 1000 ft. Sgt. Dawson decided to remain in the aircraft and risk a forced landing - Sgt. Crawford complied however and he survived jumping when the aircraft was only at 750 ft. landing in a tree with nothing more than a sprained left ankle and of course, suffering from shock.

The aircraft eventually crashed at 00.15 hrs at Hough-on-the-Hill into a cottage killing the two crew members and also 72 year old Mr John Ayto and his 70 year old wife, Annie Sophia Ayto who lived in the cottage.

Burial details:

P/O. Philip Henry Lowther. Bideford Public Cemetery. Sec B. Grave 159. Son of John Henry and Mary Louisa Lowther, of Bideford, England.

Grave shown right (courtesy Glenn Christodoulou)

Sgt. Kenneth Custance Ellis. Comberton (St. Mary) Churchyard. Son of Bernard William and Florence Hilda Ellis, of Comberton, husband of Doris Irene Ellis, of Cambridge, England.

Sgt. George Bernard Crawford. Brookwood Military Cemetery 24.B.10. Known to be from Redruth, Cornwall - worked in a department store in Plymouth. Next of Kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Mr. Kenneth T. Tagg. (pictured left) Buried at the Earlham Road Cemetery, Norwich. Born on the 24th March 1924 in Lewisham. Son to Mrs. (née Tilfts) Tagg. In the 1939 Register he was at school in Uckfield, Sussex.

Researched with the assistance of Derek Bales for the relatives of the crew. Acknowledgments, to the following: Derek Bales, Glenn Christodoulou for grave photo, sent in to us in September 2017. Thanks to John Jones for the Next of Kin details for Mr. Tagg. Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses".

RS 07.06.2019 - Update to NoK details for Mr. Tagg

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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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