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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
20.04.1945 19 OTU Wellington X LP760 Fg.Off. Matthews

Operation: Training - Cross Country flight

Date: 20th April 1945 (Friday)

Unit: 19 Operational Training Unit (OTU), "C" Flight

Type: Wellington X

Serial: LP760

Code: XF:H

Base: RAF Kinloss, Scotland

Location: Bank Head farm, Humbie, Scotland.

Pilot: Fg.Off. Aubrey Glyndwr Matthews 153043 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Nav: Fg.Off. Edward Rawlinson 166236 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav 2: Fg.Off. Robert Edward Williams J46275 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air Bmr: Sgt. Vivian Peter Dias 605691 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Daniel Pulham 1896217 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. William Gourlay 1825511 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Take off at 11:52 hrs from RAF Kinloss in Scotland for a cross-country flight.

Shortly afterwards at 12:40 hrs. it was to end in scenes of devastation in the vicinity of Bank Head farm, Humbie, some eight miles SSW of Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland.

Eye witnesses report that the Wellington was cruising at some 5,000 feet when the overcast sky was lit by a flash, followed by an explosion.

Above left: Sgt. Vivian Peter Dias, Right: Fg.Off. Robert Edward Williams.

Debris rained down and accident investigators concluded that the outer section of the starboard wing had sheared away.

It was the last fatal accident for 19 OTU in five years of operational training.

On the F1180 Aircraft Accident card, it states- “The pilot probably lost control in turbulent cloud due to not being strapped in”. This statement does not support the eyewitness reports of an explosion at the time.

The casualty notification, from the Air Ministry, sent to the father of Fg.Off. Williams detailed that the Wellington completely disintegrated near Humbie, east Lothian in Scotland on the 20th April 1945 at 12:40 hrs. The aircraft was on a cross-country training flight at the time. The bodies of five crew were removed to RAF Station East Fortune. It describes that the starboard outer wing sheared off at 5000 ft after a flash and dull explosion centred over a 3 miles area. The funeral of Fg.Off. Williams was to be on the 23rd April 1945 at 14:00 hrs at Haddington Cemetery in East Lothian.

Burial Details:

Fg.Off. Aubrey Glyndwr Matthews. Mortlake Cemetery, Hammersmith. Plot 14.Section C Grave 91. Son of Mr and Mrs J J Matthews and husband of Eileen Matthews of West Kensington, London, England

Fg.Off. Edward Rawlinson. Horwich Churchyard (Holy Trinity), Manchester. Grave 42. Son of Theodore and Maud Rawlinson of Horwich, Manchester, England.

Fg.Off. Robert Edward Williams. Haddington, New Burial Ground (St.Martins), East Lothian, Scotland. Section E, Grave 31. Born 9th August 1924 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Son of David Robert and Miriam Ada (née Beaumont) Williams of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Vivian Peter Dias. Haddington Roman Catholic Graveyard, East Lothian, Scotland. Section M, Grave 18. Son of Vivian Charles and Cecily Alice (nee Benbow) Dias of Georgetown, Demerara, British Guyana. Vivian’s father was Portuguese and worked as a solicitor while his mother was from Staffordshire, England. He had three younger sisters and he attended a Roman Catholic boarding school in England.

Sgt. John Daniel Pulham. Dover Cemetery (St.James) Section FR, Grave 32. Known as Jack he was the son of Edward Stanley and Sarah Louisa Pulham of Dover, England.

Further information on Sgt. John D. Pulham is available from the Dover War Memorial Project - our thanks to Maggie from this fine memorial website.

Sgt. William Gourlay. Haddington Roman Catholic Graveyard, East Lothian, Scotland. Section E, Grave 33. Son of William and Eileen Firth Gourlay of Patrick West, Glasgow, Scotland.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits and family information on Sergeant Dias to his niece, Vivien Smith. With thanks to Malcolm Stewart for correction of village name - December 2016. Thanks also to David Champion who submitted the crash site photographs - December 2016. Thanks to John Hamilton for providing the notification of casualty for Fg.Off. Williams (Jan 2021).

RS 08.01.2021 - Addition of casualty notification sent to father of Fg.Off. Williams

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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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