30/31.07.1941 No. 142 Squadron Wellington II W5364 QT-H Fl/Sgt. Vidler
Operation: Köln (Cologne)
Date: 30/31st July 1941 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 142 Squadron
Type: Wellington II
Base: RAF Binbrooke, Lincolnshire
Location: Heath land Nr. Ashdown Forest, Nutley, England
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Henry Alexander Vincent Vidler 740176 RAF Age 27. Killed
Pilot 2: Sgt. Victor Ronald Sutton 528254 RAF Age 24. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Wilfred Stanley Brooks 581201 RAF Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Ernest Cave 615262 RAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Stanley Hathaway 990190 RAVR Age 24. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Saunders 754479 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking of on an operation to bomb Cologne, Germany at 00:01 hrs RAF Binbrooke, Lincolnshire. It is understood that the Wellington, with a trainee second pilot on board, was hit by flak over the target area.
Struggling to reach a suitable landing area on return with just the starboard engine in operation and in the throws of terrible weather conditions, the aircraft crashed on the south slopes of Ashdown Forest in Kent.
The mother of Sgt. Hathaway placed a simple white cross as a memorial on the spot that the crash occurred shortly afterwards. In 1954 a stone cross was placed. Then as time moved on the Forest Rangers built a stone wall around the crass to keep the sheep and other livestock away. I understand that the people who built this wall also scribed their initials on the right hand hand of the wall when they completed it in 1971. A.J. and P.J. In time the Rangers planted trees and flowers at the spot and it has become a Remembrance Day visitors spot for literally hundreds of people. (see photo below)
A gentleman named Frank Wilson (ex RAF) erected a plaque to all the crew in 1992 on the wall surrounding the memorial and all the relatives of the crew have visited the memorial at one time or another we understand.
(1) Sgt Hathaway was not the usual W/Op / Air Gunner for this crew. He was taking the place of a Sgt Morton B. Cohen - reason not established. Martin Bolden Cohen became an Australian Politician. He died in 1968.
Fl/Sgt. Henry Alexander Vincent Vidler. Hull Crematorium. Screen Wall. Panel 5. Son of Henry James Vidler and Rose Vidler, of Hessle; husband of Mary Kathleen Vidler, of Hessle, Humberside, England.
Sgt. Victor Ronald Sutton. Brockley Cemetery. Sec Y. Grave 676. Son of Frederick A. and Elsie B Sutton (Nee Martin), wife of Lily Porter, who he married in East Glamorgan, Wales in April 1940. Born 26th July 1917 in Sidcup, Kent, England. From Lewisham, London, England.
Sgt. Wilfred Stanley Brooks. Ramsgate and St. Lawrence Cemetery. Ramsgate Div. Sec G.A. Grave 311. Son of Oliver and G. L. Brooks, of Ramsgate, Kent, England. His brother, Sapper Alfred John of the 5th Company Royal Engineers died fighting the Japanese at Kohim, India. the site of one of the most fierce battles against a huge enemy division.
Fl/Sgt. Arthur Ernest Cave. Wallesey (Rake Lane) Cemetery Sec 19C. Grave 362A. Son of Harold and Elizabeth Cave, of Wallasey, Liverpool, England. (Grave photo courtesy Mike McQuaid via our help desk - also shown his father on the the rear stone.
Sgt. Thomas Stanley Hathaway. Preston-On-Tess Cemetery. Sec A. Row P. Grave 1. Son of Thomas and Ethel Margaret Hathaway, of Eaglescliffe, Stockton-On-Tees, England.
Fl/Sgt. Leonard Saunders. Whitstable Cemetery. Sec. 4L. Grave 15. Son of Frederick Charles and Julia Maud Saunders, of Whitstable, Kent, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 2, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Ashdown Forest website. Also to Martyn Critchlow for information on Sgt. Victor Sutton.