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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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bomber command
26.05.1944 No. 5 LFS Lancaster I L7578 RC-L P/O. Sanderson

Operation: Training

Date: 26th May 1944 (Friday)

Unit: No. 5 LFS (Lancashire Finishing School)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: L7578

Code: RC-L

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire

Location: Wood Barn, near Glebe Farm, Gonalston, Nottinghamshire

Pilot: P/O. George Benjamin Sanderson J/86545 RCAF Age 31. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Graham Middlemas 1822037 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Albert Dennis Clark 1473146 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Archibald Thomas Noble J/87968 RCAF Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bernard Broe 1450090 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Dennis Wright R/203453 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derek Nicholls 1852333 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

New photographs added to the website - January 2017 with thanks to the Bishop family - their Grandfather was the foster brother of Sgt. Derek Nicholls.


Taking off at 18:50 hrs on a combined navigation and bombing exercise.

The aircraft is reported to have dived from around 8,000 ft and crashed at 22:15 hrs at Wood Barn just outside the village of Gonalston, Nottinghamshire. All the crew were killed instantly.

Some reports state that the accident was thought to have been caused by the parachute harness of one of the crew getting entangled in the controls during a critical phase of the climb out from RAF Syerston.

Above left: Sgt James Graham Middlemas and right crash area (courtesy David Willey)

Above, as described - with Sgt. Nicholls rear row, 3rd from right.

L7578 whilst with 44 Squadron (courtesy IWM)

Crash site 2013 (courtesy David Willey)

Some years ago a memorial has been erected close to the impact area by relatives of Sgt. James Graham Middlemas.

Collective graves at Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery

(courtesy Jill Gilliver - available at a higher resolution free to relatives - please contact us)

Burial details:

Plt.Off. George Benjamin Sanderson. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Born on 31st January 1913 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Both his parents had died and his only next of kin was his sister Mabel May Sanderson. He was an economist and had served in the Home Guard from 1940-41 before resigning and returning to Canada where he enlisted in the RCAF in July 1942.

Sgt. James Graham Middlemas. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Son of Harry and Isabella Middlemas, of Galashiels, Selkirkshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Albert Dennis Clark. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Son of Albert and Jane Clark, of Sheffield, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Sleeps Peacefully With His Comrades."

P/O. Archibald Thomas Noble. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Born 16th October 1915. Son of Thomas Arthur and Mary Hannah Black Noble, of High River, Alberta, Canada.

Sgt. Bernard Broe. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Son of Harold Edward and Elsie Broe, of New Mills, Derbyshire, England. Grave inscription reads: " His Memory Is Our Greatest Treasure. In Our Hearts He lives Forever."

Fl/Sgt. Dennis Wright. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Born 20th March 1924. Son of Henry and Mary Wright, husband of Lillian Mary Wright, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Gone But Not Forgotten. Rest In Peace."

Sgt. Derek Nicholls. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec F. Coll. Grave 309. Foster-son of Mrs. J. E. Osborne, of Sonning Common, Oxfordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "To Our Dear Boy, Most Loved, Never To Be Forgotten."

Researched for relatives of the crew, with thanks to Jill Gilliver for grave photographs, David Willey for additional information and photographs and of course to Betty Sheldon (1) - the girlfriend to Graham Middlemas, Del Bishop who contacted us in January 2017 with the crew photographs and the original photo of the grave markers. His Grandfather, John Hannington, was serving in the British Army at the time but shortly after his birth was fostered by Mrs. J.E. Osbourne. So he is the foster brother of Sgt. Derek Nicholls - the family of Del Bishop found the photographs with his Grandfather possessions, thank goodness he has kept them, also to sources as shown. Thanks to David Sneath for the NoK details from the National Library and Archives Canada for Plt.Off. Sanderson.

Betty with Landowner visiting the crash site.

(1) Betty was devastated by the loss of her boyfriend, Sgt. James Middlemas, and years later managed to pluck up the courage to visit the crash site with the permission and support of the landowner. Betty later met another aircrew member serving with No. 9 Squadron. Tragically he was also killed on the 8th April 1945 flying in a Lancaster I HK788 WS-E, just a month before the end of the war! This loss can be found on our website.

RS 26.05.2019 - Addition of NoK details for Plt.Off. Sanderson.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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