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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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256 Squadron Crest
14/15.05.1941 No. 256 Squadron Defiant I T3955 JT-R Sgt. Peter John Taylor

Operation: Night reconnaissance training

Date: 14/15 May 1941 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 256 Squadron. Motto: "Addimus vim viribus" ("Strength to Strength")

Badge: In front of an anchor, a ferrets head erased

Type: Boulton Paul Defiant I

Serial: T3955

Code: JT-R

Base: RAF Squires Gate aka RAF Blackpool, Lancashire.

Location: Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire

Pilot: Sgt. Peter John Taylor 958721 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Erle Rutherford (Billy) Fremlin NZ/402108 RNZAF Age 19 - Killed

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Having been disbanded in 1919 No.256 Squadron reformed at Catterick, North Riding of Yorkshire on 23 November 1940, as a night fighter squadron equipped with Boulton Paul Defiants and became operational over south-west England early in February 1941. In March 1941 it moved north to RAF Squires Gate in Lancashire to defend Merseyside.


Defiant T3955 took off from RAF Squires Gate on the night of 14 May on a practice night reconnaissance mission. In poor visibility the pilot, Peter Taylor, is thought to have lost control due to inexperience in instrument flying. Diving vertically into the ground the aircraft crashed at Bolton-le-Sands near Carnforth, Lancashire at 01.45 hours on 15 May. The aircraft itself was totally destroyed in the crash and the ensuing fire.

"Flying in 9/10 cloud at 6000 ft - both crew members abandoned the aircraft but were too low for their parachutes to deploy. Aircraft crashed at Nether Kellet, Bolton-le-Sands 2.5 miles SSW of Carnforth". Errol Martyn - For Your Tomorrow Vol’s 1-3

All five of the above New Zealand airmen were destined to lose their lives during the war. Sgts. Noel Anthony John Clifford and Lincoln John Ellmers: see P/O. Athol Charles McKinnon: see Sgt. Reginald Lee Robinson NZ402116 was killed in an air raid on London 16 April 1941 and Sgt. Erle Rutherford Fremlin (see this page). Photograph courtesy Paul Broderick


Sgt. Peter John Taylor was born on 1 November 1920 the son of John Taylor (a Fruit and Potato Merchant) and Dorothy Margaret Taylor nee Butler later of Fishpool, Bury, Lancashire. He is thought to have had three siblings, Doreen Taylor born 1916, Ellen J.E. Taylor born 1918 and William M. Taylor born 1924.

Peter John Taylor entered Nottingham high School in 1928 and left in 1934 when the family moved to Worksop. He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School War Memorial. (Details courtesy of Nottingham High School Archives)

Sgt. Erle Rutherford (Billy) Fremlin was born on 29 November 1921 Auckland, New Zealand, the only son of Charles Clement Fremlin and Mabel Norah Fremlin nee Anderson. He had three sisters Melva, Nola and Keitha and the family lived at 44 Brown Street, Ponsonby, Auckland. Charles and Mabel Fremlin later lived at Kawau Island, Auckland.

Billy Fremlin was educated at Richmond Road School and for several years he was a member of the Ponsonby Boys Band. After leaving school he was employed as a Storekeeper by an Auckland engineering firm.

He was one of the New Zealand airmen included in the party which visited Windsor Castle and had tea with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose.

He left New Zealand October 1940 on the ship Tamaroa for the UK and was attached to the RAF on 1 November 1940.


Sgt. Peter John Taylor was buried at Mansfield (Nottingham Road) Cemetery. Grave 2402.

His epitaph reads;

He gave his life nobly,

And passed thro'

Great tribulations

With a smile

Sgt. Erle Rutherford (Billy) Fremlin, was buried at Mansfield (Nottingham Road) Cemetery. Grave 2603.

No epitaph.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all the relatives and friends of the members of the crew - May 2017

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 15.05.2017

RW 13.11.2018 Photo of five NZ airmen added courtesy Paul Broderick

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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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