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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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Bomber Command Crest
22.07.1941 No. 16 OTU Hampden I P5305 P/O. Michael W. Major

Operation: Training

Date: 22nd July 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 16 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Hampden I 

Serial: P5305

Base: RAF Brackley (Hinton-in-the-Hedges)

Location: Field near Hinton-in-the-Hedges airfield.

Pilot: P/O. Michael Wakeman Major 80086 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Butler RAFVR Survived - injured

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. D.F. Stephen RAFVR Survived - injured

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. A.C. Willis RAFVR Survived - injured


On a night navigation exercise. On its return, during landing they undershot the runway and crashed in a field next to the airfield at 02:15 hrs.

The pilot, P/O. Michael Major was killed, the 3 remaining crew injured. Sgt. Butler suffered a broken left arm while the other two had superficial injuries.

Hampden notes: Length: 16.32 m, Wingspan: 21.09 m . Power plant: 2 × Bristol Pegasus XVIII 9-cylinder radial engines, 1000 hp (754 kW) at 3,000 feet (910 m) each. Maximum speed: 247 mph (215 knots, 397 km/h) at 4,210 m. Range: 1,720 mi (1,496 nmi, 2,768 km-Max fuel and 910 kg bombs, 206 mph (332 km/h) 1 × fixed forward firing .303 in (7.7 mm) M1919 Browning machine gun in nose, 3–5 Vickers K machine guns: one flexibly mounted in the nose, one or two each in dorsal and ventral positions. Bombs: 1,814 kg bombs or 1 × 18 in (457 mm) torpedo or mines.

Sherborne School, Dorset - Any further information that you are able to assist them with fallen former pupils from all wars, we would be pleased to pass onto them. 

Burial details:

P/O. Michael Wakeman Major. Upper Heyford Cemetery. Sec. B. Grave 88. Further information courtesy Sherborne School archives: son of Revd. Henry Dewsbury Alves Major and of Mary Eliza Major, of Merton Vicarage (later of Ripon Hall, Oxford). Attended Sherborne School (School House) 1926-1928. Exeter College, Oxford, BA. Clerk to the High Court of Justice, Southern Rhodesia.

With thanks to Sherborne School Archives for additional information. Roger Roop for grave photographs. Other sources as quoted below.

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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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