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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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RAF Crest
14.04.1944 No 5 L.F.S. Lancaster I W4103 F/O. Henry H. Richardson DFM

Operation: Training.

Date: 14 April 1944 (Friday)

Unit: No.5 Lancaster Finishing School / No.1521 Flight - Beam Approach Training

Type: Lancaster I / Oxford I

Serial: W4103 / LB415

Code: RC-E

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire.

Location: Screveton - One and a half miles South of Syerston Airfield.

Pilot Inst: F/O. Henry Holmes Richardson DFM. J/17320 RCAF Age 28. Killed (1)

Pupil Pilot: P/O. Patrick William Laidler AUS/415800 RAAF Age 28. Killed

Flt/Eng: Sgt. Henry Ernest Herbert 1822275 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav:F/O. Peter William Raymond Holes 140864 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. David Winchester McRuer 151768 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Glyn Robert (Bob) Aspinall 1800248 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick William Edwards 1869475 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor Charles William Arras Gouldstone 1892933 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Pilot U/T: AC2. Sidney Stokoe 1677803 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Oxford Crew:

Pilot Inst: Fl/Lt. James Addison Hawkins 120119 RAFVR Age 22. Injured (2)

Pilot U/T: F/O. Bryan Hedley Dennis 160921 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


At 16:30 hours, forty minutes into a daytime dual flying exercise, Lancaster W4103 was involved in a mid-air collision with a beam approach training Airspeed Oxford LB415 from 1521 Flight at Wymeswold (having taken off at 15:35 hrs).

The two aircraft were seen to collide at an altitude of 1000 feet over the village of Screveton and crashed a short distance apart in a field just south of the airfield at Screveton. There was no chance of escape and the crews of both aircraft were all killed. Several witnesses at the time stated that both pilots tried to steer their damaged aircraft away from the village.

Above left: P/O. Patrick William Laidler (courtesy Barry Laidler) Right: Memorial plaque (courtesy Richard Flagg)

Weather conditions at the time were clear with eight miles of visibility and no low cloud covering. The accident report states that there had been concerns previously in regard to beam approach training aircraft in the vicinity of Syerston such that warnings had been issued to pilots to stay clear.

The Lancaster instructor, F/O. Richardson, was very experienced having accumulated 670 hours of flying time, over 400 of which were on heavy bombers on operations with 50 Squadron. Richardson was awarded his DFM effective 3rd August 1943. He was invested by King George VI in a ceremony on 25 March the following year only to lose his life just three weeks later.

His citation reads:

‘By his excellent example this airmen has helped to maintain a high standard of efficiency among the pilots of his squadron. Many of the sorties undertaken by him were raids on strongly defended targets in Germany. On several of these he avoided encounters with night fighters by skilful manoeuvring and flew his aircraft safely to base. Flight Sergeant Richardson also took some good shots. His courage and skill in pressing home his attack have invariably been worthy of high praise.’

(1)Richardson Creek which flows into Nejanilini Lake, Manitoba is named after F/O. Richardson.

(2) It seems that during the impact, the pilot of the Oxford was thrown clear and descended by parachute - sadly he succumbed to his injuries later that day at the RAF hospital in Quarrington in Sleaford.

Above: memorial to crew (courtesy Richard Flagg)

Burial Details:

F/O. Henry Holmes Richardson. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot I/2 Grave 210. Son of Henry Robson Richardson and Elizabeth M. Richardson of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

P/O. Patrick William Laidler. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot I/2 Grave 209. Son of William Mathew and Wilhelmina Gertrude (Nee Young) Laidler, husband of Veeni Edwina Horwill Laidler of 84 Edinboro Street, Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia. Buried at Botley at 12:00 hrs on the 19th April 1944. Prior to enlisting in Perth, Australia employed as a bus driver with Scarborough Bus Service, North Beach. Born on the 26th March 1916.

Sgt. Henry Ernest Herbert. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot I/2 Grave 211. Son of Tom Joseph and Margaret Jessie Herbert of Crickhowell, Brecknockshire, Wales.

F/O. Peter William Raymond Holes. Colwyn Bay Cemetery (Bronynant). Sec. B Grave 147. Son of Fred and Emily Holes of Colwyn Bay, Wales.

F/O. David Winchester McRuer. Newark upon Trent Cemetery. Sec. F Grave 310. Son of David Stevenson McRuer and Sophie McRuer of Edinburgh. M.A., Hons. (Edin), Scotland.

P/O. Glyn Robert (Bob) Aspinall. Laxfield Cemetery. Sec.7 Grave 11. Son of Robert Thomas Aspinall and Ruby Anna Aspinall of Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Sgt. Frederick William Edwards. Birmingham Cemetery (Lodge Hill). Plot 47D Grave 40799. Son of Frederick William and Edith Edwards of Sparkhill, Birmingham; husband of Jose Frances Edwards of Sparkhill, Birmingham, England.

Sgt. Victor Charles William Arras Gouldstone. Aylesford Cemetery. S.E. Plot Grave 6. Son of Alfred Leonard and Rose Alice Laura Gouldstone, husband of Hilda Florence Verion Gouldstone of Aylesford, Kent, England.

AC2. Sidney Stokoe. Newcastle upon Tyne Cemetery (West Road). Sec. H Grave 229. Son of William and Edith Stokoe of Benwell, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.

Oxford Crew:

Fl/Lt. James Addison Hawkins. Burton-On-The-Wolds Burial Ground. Row F. Grave 10. Son of Reginald Thomas Hawkins and Margaret Thomson Hawkins, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

F/O. Bryan Hedley Dennis. St. Albans Cemetery (Hatfield Road). Sec L. Row A. Grave 33. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Percy Donald Dennis, of St. Albans, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. Additional information added by the webmaster. With thanks to Barry Laidler - son of P/O. Patrick William Laidler for the use of his fathers photograph. Richard Flagg for memorial photo. Also to Jeff Scott for submission of his Uncle's photo (F/O. Henry Holmes Richardson) in January 2016.

CHB 27.09.2011
KTY Page updated 22.01.2016
CHB 27.02.2020 Link to Commemorative Feature added

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