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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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578 Squadron Crest
06.07.1944 No. 578 Squadron Halifax III MZ519 LK-U P/O. Parfitt

Operation: Croixdalle

Date: 06th July 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 578 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ519

Code: LK-U

Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire

Location: Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire

Pilot: P/O. Reginald Parfitt 177439 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Raymond Albert Rolph 1645930 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: F/O. Brian Grahame Turnidge 152501 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. John Joseph Godin R/151252 RCAF Age 19. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Frederick Pitts 1621271 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Arthur Hill 1535267 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Granville Leatham 2220239 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


Taking off at 19:11 hrs from RAF Burn in Yorkshire on a daylight operation to bomb the flying bomb sites at Croixdalle.

Description of the memorial courtesy Jon Layne (Secretary Ashbourne Section CROCA):

As you pass along Farnsfield’s main street, it is easy to miss a small sign labelled “Halifax Memorial”. A short drive down a minor road, then a farm road, takes you to the site.

At 22:25 hours on 6th July 1944, a Halifax bomber MZ519-LKU based at RAF Burn in Yorkshire was returning from a successful mission to bomb a V1 launching site in Croixdalle France when it developed engine trouble. The pilot managed to avoid the village but crashed outside it at Riddings Farm, all seven crew members being killed. The recovered bodies were laid out in the small paddock in front of the farmhouse before their removal the following day and this left a lasting memory on the farmer and his family.

As a memorial seven Nottinghamshire oak trees were planted in a crescent to mark the spot. These were followed later by two Canadian redwood trees in memory of the one Canadian crew member.

In the early 1990’s, two locals (Frank Reynods Jr and Jack Wright) had the idea of a more permanent memorial to mark the 50th Anniversary of the crash. A Committee was formed, funds raised and the memorial as depicted was unveiled in 1994 by Air Marshal Sir John Curtis (who had flown in the same squadron 578). The area behind the original trees has been developed as a small copse, through donations from the villagers and others and the site is well maintained by the Farnsfield Memorial Trust.

At the annual Remembrance Day Service, in addition to a roll call of the villagers who died in the Two World Wars, a special mention is made of the names of the Halifax crew. There is also a memorial in the church which includes photographs of the seven crew members

Burial details:

P/O. Reginald Parfitt. Cardiff Cemetery (Cathays). Sec. E.A. Grave 2214. Son of Arthur Ernest and Sarah Jane Parfitt, of Grangetown, Cardiff, Wales.

Sgt. Raymond Albert Rolph. Hawkwell Churchyard (St. Mary) Grave 1066. Son of Richard and Martha Anna Rolph, of Rochford, Essex, England.

F/O. Brian Grahame Turnidge. Bristol Cemetery (Canford) Sec. QQ. Grave 294B. Son of Harold Leslie and Florence Mabel Turnidge, of Bristol and husband of Gwendolene Sheila Anne Turnidge, of Bristol, England.

Fl/Sgt. John Joseph Godin. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall) Sec. B. Row H. Grave 11. Son of Isidore Edmund and Julia Brennan Godin, of North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Thomas Frederick Pitts. Hale Cemetery. Sec. K. Grave 197. Son of Thomas Maxwell Pitts and Elizabeth Mildred Pitts, of Hale, Cheshire, England.

Sgt. Thomas Arthur Hill. Bilston Cemetery. Sec. G.A. New Part. Grave 4811. 9. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. Leonard Granville Leatham. Tipton Cemetery. Sec. A/E. Grave 227. Son of Leonard William and Sarah Anna Leatham, of Tipton and husband of Gladys Irene Leatham, of Tipton, West Midlands, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to David Styles who submitted the photo of the memorial and detailed information to Aircrew Remembered - May 2017. Also thanks to Richard Flagg for memorial overall photograph.

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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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