11/12.08.1944 30 OTU Wellington III BK562 Fg Off. P.W. Clifton
Date: 11th/12th August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit No: 30 Operational Training Unit (OTU)
Type: Wellington III
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)
REASON FOR LOSS:
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.
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: