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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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617 Squadron Crest
20.01.1944 No. 617 Squadron Lancaster III ED918 AJ-F Flt.Lt. T.V. O’Shaughnessy

Operation: Training

Date: 20th January 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: 617 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED918

Code: AJ-F

Base: RAF Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire.

Location: Snettisham, Norfolk.

Pilot: Flt.Lt. Thomas Vincent O'Shaughnessy 130132 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Pilot 2: Fg.Off. Arthur David Holding 133575 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (1)

Nav: Fg.Off. A. Ward RAFVR Injured

Air/Bmr: Fg.Off. George Aldred Kendrick 135033 RAFVR Age 23. Injured (2)


Took off at 1930 hrs. on a training exercise and crashed some 35 minutes later on the beach at Snettisham, Norfolk.

The 617 Squadron Operational Order Book 1943-1945 recorded that Lancaster ED918 was one of six aircraft carrying out low-level dusk bombing practice over The Wash and water. It was reported that Flt.Lt. O’Shaugnessy lost concentration and flew into a low hill on the beach. The aircraft exploded killing all the crew except for Fg.Off. Ward and Fg.Off. Kendrick. Kendrick was badly injured and Ward suffered a broken leg after being thrown from the crashing wreckage.

In an interview in 1995 and published on the Lancaster Archive website Flt.Sgt K.W. Brown CGM, RCAF stated that ED918 was not flying true after it was returned from being repaired. He advised the Sqn that the aircraft should not be flown until the problem was fixed. However, whilst he was on leave ED918 was detailed on the training flight during which it crashed. It is possible that the 'out of true flying characteristics' was a contributing factor to the aircraft’s loss.

Flt.Sgt K.W. Brown was the pilot of ED918 which took part in the raid on the Dams. Flt.Sgt. Brown was part of the third wave of aircraft, which were detailed to inflict further damage needed to any of the Dams. For his bravery he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) and was subsequently commissioned as an Officer.

A boy who lived in the still existing lone house, just off the Snettisham Beach road and located about 400 yards to the south of the crash site, witnessed the crash. He remembered that the aircraft caught fire after it had come to rest on the beach and that the American fire services from the USAAF Gunnery Range base at Snettisham had to withdraw because of exploding ordnance.

The North Sea floods of 1953 caused a flood-tide inundated Snettisham Beach and as a consequence the actual crash site is now located inland.

Above: 617 Squadron Lancaster: This aircraft took part on the raids against the Sorpe dam on the 16/17th may 1943.

(1) Fg.Off. Arthur David Holding was a former pupil of Moseley Grammar school (Now secondary/grammar school) We are working very closely with the school's historians to remember all the ex pupils who died whilst serving with the RAF and recorded on the school memorial.

(2) Although Fg.Off. Kendrick survived this he was later killed on the 12th January 1945 on an operation to Bergen. He bailed out of Lancaster PD233 KC-G but it appears that he was seriously injured and died some 3 days later.

Left: Memorial at Woodhall Spa and right: Snettisham beach.

Burial details:

Flt.Lt. Thomas Vincent O'Shaughnessy. Great Crosby R.C. Churchyard. Sec B. Grave 445. Son of Captain Maurice John O'Shaughnessy and Elizabeth Marie O'Shaughnessy, of Waterloo, Liverpool, England.

Fg.Off. Arthur David Holding. Birmingham (Brandwood End) Cemetery. Sec. B.4. Cons. Grave 166. Son of David S. and Gertie Holding, of 57 All Saints Road, King's Heath, Birmingham, England.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Keith Townsend historian of Moseley Secondary/Grammar school memorial records, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Thanks to Noel Shelley for the eyewitness account.

RS 05.11.2019 - Editorial update

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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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