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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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12 Squadron crest
10/11.10.1941 No. 12 Squadron Wellington II Z8397 Sgt. Tothill

Operation: Köln (Cologne)

Date: 10/11th October 1941 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 12 Squadron

Type: Wellington II

Serial: Z8397

Code: PH-?

Base: RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire

Location: California Sands, Caister-On-Sea, Norfolk

Pilot: Sgt. Frank Hugh Neville Tothill 927548 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Pilot 2: Fl/Sgt. James Lennox Scott Dunlop R/67572 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Alfred Edward (Teddy) Cosgrove 968259 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Aldwyn Anthony Nordon 653750 RAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Raymond Henry Todman 908659 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Pilkington 917339 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Took off at 23:52 hrs from RAF Binbrook to attack Köln but after a short while returned with what is assumed a problem with the engines. During the return the pilot's decided to crash land the aircraft on the beach at California Gap near Caister-On-Sea, Norfolk. Which they did at around 01:30 hrs.

Some reports state that after coming to rest the aircraft touched a mine which exploded - killing all the crew.

We have an eye witness report stating that the beach in this area was not mined and in fact he was playing in that area shortly before the crash. However it is of course possible that they hit a rogue mine. The eye witness did say that the aircraft was lifted from the beach a few days later with cranes form the cliff tops.

His father was the local ARP and he decided with help from the people in the village to place the bodies in a holiday chalet owned by a business man from Cambridge. Mr Tennant had been given the keys to the chalet for him to look after.

We are in contact with one relative from the crew and they have requested a memorial plaque to be placed at or near the crash location. We are currently investigating this possibility.

(Understood that a plaque has now been placed on the wall of the Californian Tavern overlooking the area. The Webmaster noticed this in August 2016 - Don Butt submitted this photo in September 2016)

Burial details:

Sgt. Frank Hugh Neville Tothill. Moggerhanger (St. John) Churchyard. N.E. of Church. Son of Charity Wish Tothill, of Moggerhanger, Bedfordshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. James Lennox Scott Dunlop. Stevenson (New Street) Cemetery Sec. M. North Extn. Grave 22-23. Son of Alexander and Mary (nee Scott) Dunlop, of Stevenston, Ayrshire and 434 Eighth Street, Niagara Falls, New York. Ex pupil of the University of Chicago. Also engaged to Miss Deise de Wolf a member of the A.T.S. in England.

(left - Manchester Evening News)

Sgt. Alfred Edward Cosgrove. Moston St. Joseph's) Roman Catholic Cemetery St. Anthony Sed. Grave 622. Born on the 19th May 1921. Son of Alfred Joseph and Catherine Mary Cosgrove, of 11 Albany Avenue, Higher Openshaw, Manchester, England. Formally employed as a laboratory assistant with the Calico Printers Association.

Fl/Sgt. Aldwyn Anthony Nordon. Barnsley (Carlton) Cemetery Sec A. Grave 121. Son of Charles and Lillian May Nordon, of 20, Maybank, Cronkill Lane, Carlton, Barnsley. Formally of Barnsley and District Holgate Grammar School.

Sgt. Raymond Henry Todman. Littlehapton Cemetery Sec D. Grave 4230. Son of Harry Thomas Todman and Kathleen Elizabeth Todman, 71 South Terrace, Littlehampton, Sussex, England, husband of Peggy Margaret May (nee Clarke).Formally employed with Littlehampton District Council and also Worthing Rural District Council. His wife Peggy, was the 150 yards sprint champion of Essex for 3 successive years - she also won national fame by coming 2nd in All-England International Sports meeting at Margate in 1938.

Sgt. Arthur Pilkington. Scottow Cemetery Grave 261. Also remembered on the Mercer Park Memorial at Accrington, Lancashire. Son of Dixon and Emily V. Pilkington, of Clayton-le-Moors, Accrington, Lancashire, England.

Researched with information supplied by Peter Tennant. Thanks also to Don Butt and Richard Walker for photographs of the plaque - September 2016. Thanks also to John Wilson for the newspaper clipping for Sgt. Alfred E. Cosgrove. With thanks to sources shown below.

RS - 10.08.2018 - Addition of Newspaper clipping

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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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