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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
10.04.1943 Central Gunnery School Wellington IA N2865 Fl/Lt. Stanbury

Operation: Training

Date: 10th April 1943 (Saturday)

Unit: No. Central Gunnery School

Type: Wellington Ia

Serial: N2865

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire

Location: Abbotts Ripton, Huntingdonshire

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Terence Cathcart Stanbury 42271 RAF Age 30. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. John Alfred Town J/16172 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)

Air/Gnr: F/O. Reginald Ross Hely AUS/403811 RAAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt Charles Ronald Archer 1113141 RAFVR Age 40. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Eric Cooke 742967 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Clifford Harrison 1000251 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Spitfire IIa P7677: Pilot: Fl/Lt. Ernest Hamilton Griffith AUS/403334 RAAF Age 27. Baled out - injured (2)


During a training exercise the above two aircraft collided in mid-air. The Spitfire pilot managed to bale out of his aircraft, suffering injuries to his not and shock - admitted to RAF sick quarters at Sutton Bridge.

The Wellington crew all perished in the accident when the Wellington crashed at Abbotts Ripton in Huntingdonshire. Following the crash, both aircraft caught fire.

The following investigations by Sq/Ldr. Faulkner from Headquarters 25 Group concluded that neither pilot was to blame and described it as an “accident”.

The funerals of Fl/Lt. Stanbury and F/O. Gordon Griffiths Thomas NZ/403999 RNZAF (from an accident the previous day in Spitfire IIA P7678) took place with full military honours at Sutton Bridge Cemetery on the 13th April 1943.

Above: as described (courtesy Jeremy Musk)

(1) F/O. John Alfred Town - enlisted in the RCAF in 1940, trained as an air gunner - receiving promotion to F/O in 1942 - previously served in Coastal Command. Town Lake, southeast of Egenolf Lake, Manitoba, Canada was named after him in 1975.

(2) Fl/Lt. Ernest Hamilton Griffith recovered from his injuries and went on to serve as a pilot with 456 Squadron flying Mosquitoes. 29th September 1943. Mosquito NF.II DV690 crashed, during what appears to have been a test flight with a fitter as a passenger, 23 year old, Cpl. William Henry Blakeley AUS/26162 RAAF. The aircraft entered a high speed stall and dived into the ground after the starboard engine and tubular engine mounting structure became torn away whilst flying at 1000 ft over RAF Colerne airfield in Wiltshire. Both crew killed.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Terence Cathcart Stanbury. Sutton Bridge Cemetery ( St. Mathew) Sec. Q. Grave 43. He is survived today by his son, Peter John Stanbury of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Fl/Sgt. Eric Cooke. Grimsby Cemetery. (Scartho Road) Sec. 116. Row H. Grave 10. Son of James William Cooke, and of Beatrice Cooke (née Tomlin), of Grimsby, husband of Daphne May Cooke (née Ferris), of Perth, Scotland.

F/O. Reginald Ross Hely. Houghton and Wyton Burial Ground. Grave 351. Born on the 10th January 1921 at Wagga Wagga, NSW, the son of Norman and Florence Beatrice Hely, of Hamilton, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt Charles Ronald Archer. Houghton and Wyton Burial Ground. Grave 362. Husband of Margaret Emily Archer, of Croydon, Surrey, England.

F/O. John Alfred Town. Houghton and Wyton Burial Ground. Grave 350. Born on the 15th May 1917, the son of William Richard and Winnifred Maud Town, husband of Eileen Audra Town, of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Clifford Harrison. St. Anne’s-On-Sea Churchyard. Grave E.17.H. Son of James H. Harrison and Florence A. Harrison, of St. Anne's-on-Sea, England.


Fl/Lt. Ernest Hamilton Griffith. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Sec. H. Row V. Grave 248. Born on the 22nd May 1916 at Albury NSW, the son of Charles Hunter Griffith and Olive May Griffith, of Albury, New South Wales, Australia, husband of June Margaret Murray Griffith, father to Susan Hamilton Griffiths of Narrandera, New South Wales. Previously served in the 21st Light Horse Regiment prior to enlisting in the RAAF on the 6th January 1941.

Mosquito fitter details:

Cpl. William Henry Blakeley. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Sec. H. Row T. Grave 248. Born on the 15th October 1919 the son of Harry Newsome Blakeley and Ann Agatha Blakeley, of Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia, husband of Jessie Blakeley, of Halifax, England (Later of Dowlais, Glamorgan, South Wale)

Researched for Jeremy Musk, nephew of the Wellington pilot and dedicated to the relatives of these crews with thanks to sources quoted below.

KTY - 06.10.2017 Pilot photo added

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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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