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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
26.03.1941 No.15 OTU Wellington 1C R1243 Sgt. John Philip Mountney

Operation: Training

Date: 26 March 1941 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 15 Operational Training Unit (OTU)

Type: Wellington 1C

Serial: R1243

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Harwell, Berkshire

Location: Cardigan Bay, Wales

Pilot: Sgt. John Philip Mountney 940764 RAFVR Age 24 - Missing believed killed (1)

2nd Pilot: Sgt. Cyril Taylor Atkinson 984792 RAFVR Age 26 - Missing believed killed (2)

Obs / Air/Bmr: Sgt. Richard Morley Neale 911409 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Fairlie Hamilton Thomson 922720 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Byrne Smith 963117 RAFVR Age 23 - Missing believed killed (5)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry George Hoad 1280511 RAFVR Age 26 - Missing believed killed (6)


Took off from RAF Harwell and detailed to fly a 4 hour cross country exercise: base-Worcester-Harlech-Peterborough-base and incorporating an exercise that included dropping and bombing sea markers or smoke floats in Cardigan Bay. At 11.30 a.m. observers at Criccieth, Gwynedd, Wales saw the aircraft approach from the East, fly out to sea and run into sea fog. With visibity down to 500yds Wellington R1243 then crashed about a mile and a half out to sea. Rescue boats were sent out but only two of the crew were picked up. They were Sgt. F.H. Thomson, who was already dead and Sgt. R.M. Neale who was still alive but died from his injuries later that day.

Scale: 1" = 45 miles

Michael Mountney (nephew of the pilot) seeks contact with relatives of the other crew members regarding a proposed memorial to the crew at Criccieth. If you are a relative of a crew member or have any other information please contact us at [email protected]


(1) Sgt. John Philip Mountney was born on 11 January 1917 at Shardlow, Nottinghamshire the son of Frederick Mountney (a Teacher of Music and Orchestra Conductor) and Mary Mountney nee Roberts of Long Eaton and later of Nottingham. He entered Nottingham High School in 1927 aged 10 and left in 1934. He won prizes for Drawing and Architectural Drawing and passed his School Certificate. He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School War Memorial. (Details of John Philip Mountney courtesy Nottingham High School Archives)

John Philip Mountney had two siblings: Joyce Mary Mountney (a Violin Teacher) born 29 December 1910 and Frederick H. Mountney born 1914. In 1939 the family lived at 131 Harlaxton Drive, Nottingham at which time John Mountney was employed as an Assistant Architect.

Copies of telegram and letters above courtesy John Michael Mountney (nephew of Sgt. John Philip Mountney)

Click on any image to enlarge.

(2) Sgt. Cyril Taylor Atkinson was born on 15 June 1914 at 20, Hawthorne Street, Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire the son of John Richard Atkinson and Gertrude Atkinson nee Taylor. Prior to joining the RAFVR he was a photographer. In 1939 he lived with Charles W. Kipling and Amy Kipling at 351 Norton Road, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham. Charles Kipling was also a photographer.

Cyril Taylor Atkinson is commemorated on the Sowerby War Memorial, Thirsk, North Riding of Yorkshire, St. Oswald's Church War Memorial, Sowerby and Sowerby Methodist Church War Memorial.

(3) Sgt. Richard Morley Neale (left) was born on 15 June 1919 at Cardiff the son of Morley Havelock Neale (a Steam Trawler Owner) and Ida Walker Neale nee Stowe of Chaffcombe House, Chaffcombe, near Chard, Somerset. He had three sisters: Ismay Neale born 1912, Marion Neale boen 1914 and Patricia Neale boen 1917.

He attended Chard School and afterwards attended Sherborne School (Abbeylands) in Dorset from 1933 until December 1937 where he was House Prefect; PT Instructor with Badge; Camp PT Squad (1936); 1st Class Gym; Gym Squad (1936-37) and Sergeant in the OTC.

After leaving school he worked in Marine Insurance at Lloyds.

He is commemorated on the Sherborne School War Memorial Staircase, Book of Remembrance and Abbeylands roll of honour.

His Obituary in the 'Shirburnian' of December 1944 reads:

'Dick Neale who was killed on active service while serving with the R.A.F.V.R., in March 1941, was the son of Mr and Mrs Neale, of Chaffcombe House, Chard. He was at Abbeylands from 1933-1937, reserved and difficult to know, he nevertheless made friends and always sincere and faithful ones. His main interests were those of the country man and it was with this kind of person that his friendships grew, prospered and was valued.'

Sherborne School Gym Squad 1936 (Richard Morley Neale - first from the left, back row)

(Photographs and details of Richard Morley Neale courtesy Sherborne School Archives).

(4) Sgt. Fairlie Hamilton Thomson was born c1919 the son of James Hamilton Thomson and Nora Thomson of Scholing, Southampton. He is commemorated on the Itchen College War Memorial, Southampton.

(5) Sgt. Douglas Byrne Smith was born on 22 May 1917 at Coventry the son of John Wright Smith and Ethel Mary Smith nee Byrne. He had one sibling: Jean Margaret Smith (1919-1990). In 1939 the family lived at 44 Woodland Avenue, Coventry. At that time, John Smith was the Proprietor of a Drawing Office Equipment Business and Douglas Smith was a Drawing Office Equipment Salesman.

(6) Sgt. Harry George Hoad was born in 1914 at Lewes, Sussex the only child of Harry Thomas Hoad and Mabel Elizabeth Hoad nee Ranger of Newhaven, Sussex. He is commemorated on the Refuge Assurance Staff War Memorial at Fulshaw Hall, Wilmslow, Cheshire.


(1) Sgt. John Philip Mountney - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - Panel No 49.

(2) Sgt. Cyril Taylor Atkinson - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - Panel No 38.

(3) Sgt. Richard Morley Neale - Buried at Chaffcombe (St. Michael) Churchyard, Somerset Grave No. 263.

(4) Sgt. Fairlie Hamilton Thomson - Buried at Pwllheli Borough Cemetery Section B. Row C. Grave no. 24.

His epitaph reads:

He died

In his country's service

(5) Sgt. Douglas Byrne Smith - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - Panel No 52.

(6) Sgt. Harry George Hoad - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - Panel No 45.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all relatives and friends of the members of this crew - December 2015

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 13.12.2015

RW 29.08.2019 - Photo of Sgt. Mountney, telegram, letters and various biographical details of the crew added.

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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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