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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
11/12.08.1944 30 OTU Wellington III BK562 Fg Off. P.W. Clifton

Operation: Training

Date: 11th/12th August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 30 Operational Training Unit (OTU)

Type: Wellington III

Serial: BK562

Code: BT:R

Base: RAF Seighford, Staffordshire

Location: Wilford, Nottingham.

Pilot: Fg Off. P.W. Clifton RAFVR Age? Survived.

Pilot: WO. James William Jesse Butler 1282513 RAFVR Age 28 Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. William 'Bill' Struthers Owens 1573888 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Denys Edward Townsend 1740042 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Wellingtons of 30 Operational Training Unit (OTU)


Took off from RAF Seighford at 22:30 hours for a night cross-country exercise.

During the sortie and having flown into some cloud, the artificial horizon indicator failed. Within seconds the gyros began to spin and at 02:36 hours, by now partially abandoned, the aircraft crashed onto a tennis court at Wilford, close to the banks of the River Trent, in the south-east suburbs of Nottingham.

According to one local resident, the aircraft crashed on tennis courts which are now St Patrick’s Roman Catholic School, between Coronation and Vernon Avenue. The tennis courts were surrounded on three sides by houses and amazingly none of the residents around were killed.

One airman landed in a garden and was taken in by the residents of Vernon Avenue who went to help. The three who died were taken to their home towns in England and Scotland.

Burial Details:

WO. James William Jesse Butler. City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, Manor Park. Square 287. Grave 111856. 16th May 1916 in Poplar, London. Son of James and Annie Norah Butler, of East Ham, London, England.

Above: Courtesy of the The Stirling Observer, dated 22nd August 1944

Sgt. William Struthers Owen. St Ninians (Bannockburn) Parish Burial Ground. Compt. C.23. Grave 4. Born 13th June 1923 in Stirling, Scotland. Son Thomas and Margaret (née McGlaughlan) Owens, Glasgow, Scotland.

Above: Memorial Frame for Sgt. Townsend (Courtesy Stephen Lewis)

Sgt. Denys Edward Townsend. Brockleton (St Michael) Churchyard. South of Church. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Henry Townsend, of Pudleston, Herefordshire, England.

Researched by Mike Harrison for Aircrew Remembered, (Dec 2013). Thanks to Stephen Lewis for the image of Sgt Townsend. (Dec 2020). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2020). Thanks to Paul Markham for The Stirling Observer cutting (Mar 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 02.03.2023 - Addition of cutting for Sgt. Owens

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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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