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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
24.07.1942 No. 25 O.T.U. Wellington IC DV476 W/O. John Smith

Operation: Night circuit training

Date: 24th July 1942 (Friday)

Unit: No. 25 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: DV476 (Some documents list it as T2701 - see report below)

Code: L

Base: RAF Finningley, Yorkshire

Location: Near airfield

Pilot: W/O. John Lawrence Smith 519241 RAF Age ? Killed

Obs: W/O. Charles Eade Lutwyche 561197 RAF Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Edwin Barrows 1287636 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William McDonald 544774 RAF Age 24. Killed


Took off at 03:30 hrs from Finningley on a night circuits and landings training exercises.

Some twenty minutes into the flight and under control from ground control overshot the runway and then started to climb to between 800 and 1,000 ft.

After reaching a position of approximately one mile north west of the airfield collided with another Wellington from the same unit. (1) Both aircraft burst into flames before crashing.

However, in August 2017 we have since been advised of new information as researched by Mr. David Lutwyche (son of W/O. Charles Lutwyche) and Mr. Alan Plume (son of Sgt. Stanley Plume from the other aircraft - T2701) We submit their report into the accident:

“At 03:55 hr, Friday 24th July 1942, two Wellingtons collided on the perimeter of RAF Finningley and all members of both crews were killed. One plane was returning early from a practice bombing raid over the Theddlethorpe Bombing Range after experiencing engine problems and was set to circle the base until given permission to land.

The second plane was practising night circuits and landings training exercises under control from ground control and, after overshooting the runway, climbed and crashed into the other plane. The subsequent Accident Report card and Summary of Events document contained significant errors.

The first, returning, aircraft, recorded as T2701 but was actually DV476, had a crew of four: W/O. Smith, W/O. Lutwyche, Sgt. Barrows and Sgt. McDonald.

The second aircraft, recorded as DV476 but was actually T2701, had a crew of seven: P/O. Beck DFM, P/O. Robinson, P/O. Waterson, Sgt. Hyde, Sgt. Plume, Fl/Sgt Ethell and Sgt. Jelleyman. Details of that loss here.

The errors in identifying the aircraft correctly in the Accident Report were discovered by the son of Sgt. Plume, Mr. Alan Plume, in the early 1980’s when he engaged an Accident Investigation Team who located the engraved watch of P/O. Beck at the site in a position which did not match the entry. He went on to interview one or two members of the local population who remembered the incident and then produced convincing evidence that, I believe, led the Air Ministry to correct the record. Mr. Plume contacted me in 1991 and left me with copies of his research papers which I have recently forwarded to the new IBCC archive at Lincoln and then to Aircrew Remembered.

My grandfather attended the military funeral at St Oswald's Church, Finningley on the 30th July 1942 where my father, W/O. Lutwyche, and others were buried - shown within this page.

He was told by the Station Commander that ‘mistakes had been made’ by those in ground control that night, but it was ‘hushed up’ as one of them was highly decorated. It hardly matters nowadays whether that was true or not but the report entry that DV476 failed to notify ground control of their return seems somewhat questionable bearing in mind the experience of that crew.

It was a sad loss of eleven good men. I was also told by my aunt Betty, my father's sister and who brought me up after my mother passed away, that my father's body was recovered from the river Torne just north - west of RAF Finningley, and the subsequent autopsy revealed that he actually died from drowning - a nice final touch of irony! That last piece of information also supports Mr. Plume's conclusions with regard to which plane fell where.”

David C. Lutwyche August 2017.

Above as described: Rear L-R: P/O. Wagland, Sgt. Broom, Sgt. Lusher, Sgt. Brown, Sgt. Foster. Front: Sgt. Chadwick, Sgt. Carter, P/O. Brown, P/O. Reece, P/O. Woods, Sgt. Wiseman, Sgt. Lutwyche.

Above left: W/O. Charles Eade Lutwyche in Perpignan, France 1940. Right: Sgt. Albert Barrows

Burial details:

W/O. John Lawrence Smith. Finningley (Holy Trinity and St. Oswald) Churchyard Row A. Grave 5. Of 12 Grand Avenue, Littlehampton, Sussex was married to Linda, née Pycroft at Spalding, Lincs in the June 1940 Qtr.

W/O. Charles Eade Lutwyche. Finningley (Holy Trinity and St. Oswald) Churchyard Row B. Grave 5. Son of Harry and Florence Maud Lutwyche and husband of Winifred Mary Lutwyche, of Sutton-on-Sea, Lincolnshire, England.

Sgt. Albert Edwin Barrows. Kensington (Gunnersby) Cemetery Sec A.B. Grave 132. Son of William and Jane Barrows and husband of Ivy Margaret Barrows, of North Kensington, London, England.

Sgt. William McDonald. Finningley (Holy Trinity and St. Oswald) Churchyard Row C. Grave 5. Son of Patrick and Catherine McDonald, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

Researched for Roger Cowie, nephew of Sgt. Albert Barrows and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to sources as shown below but also to the extensive research carried out by Mr. David Lutwyche and Mr. Alan Plume who have both spent a great deal of time trying to establish the facts behind the tragic accident. With thanks also to Geoff Cowie and Charlie for grave photographs. To Dave Champion for further details - July 2018.

KTY - Updated 06.08.2017

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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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