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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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04.02.1941 No. 18 O.T.U. Wellington IC R1298 Memorial to be erected

Operation: Training

Date: 4th February 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: No 18 OTU

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: R1298

Base: RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire

Locatiion: 2 miles north of Crewe, Cheshire

Pilot (Inst): F/O. David Warburton 74344 RAFVR Age 21. Killed (1)

Pilot (U.T): W/O. Zbigniew Jan Perkowski 780498 PAF Age 26. Killed (2)

Pilot (U.T): Sgt. Stefan Joachim Wojciechowski 781314 PAF Age 25. Killed (3)

Navigator (Inst): Sgt. Victor Clarence Hill 581454 RAF Age ? Killed (4)

Navigator (U.T): F/O. Andrzej Minkiewicz P-1439 PAF Age 33. Killed (5)

W/Op (Inst): Sgt. Bernard Thomas Abbott 903090 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (6)

W/Op (U.T): Sgt. Henryk Rafal Kwiatkowski 783272 PAF Age 21. Killed (7)

Air/Gnr (Inst): Sgt. Walter Lionel Gosden N/Z39859 RNZAF Age 24. Killed (8)

Air/Gnr (U.T): Sgt. Ludwik Jachna 780645 PAF Age 21. Killed (9)

Air/Gnr (U.T): Sgt. Jan Piotr Orynek 781172 PAF Age 26. Killed (10)

(U.T. - Under training)
(O.T.U. - Operational Training Unit)


Took off from RAF Bramcote for a training exercise and collided with a barrage balloon which had been protecting the Rolls Royce factory. The aircraft had also been fired on by the Rolls Royce Home Guard anti aircraft gunners and crashed two miles north of Crewe, Cheshire

Lincolnshire was responsible for the training of all the bomber crews of the Polish Air Force who came under the operational command of the Royal Air Force. The four Polish squadrons were No. 300 (Masovian) Squadron formed 1 st July 1940, No. 301 (Pomeranian) 22nd July 1940, No. 304 (Silesian) and No. 305 (Ziema Vielkoplska) in August 1940

In the first few months of 1940 the Polish Aircrew were attached to the Volunteer Reserve of the Royal Air Force and in August they were officially transferred to the Polish Air Force who came under the operational command of the Royal Air Force

18 OTU Wellington IC

This picture shows the barrage balloon (top right) protecting the Rolls Royce factory in Crewe. This may have been the barrage balloon that the aircraft flew into (courtesy of Mark Potts and Tony Marks - Dear Mrs Jones - The Next Generation)

Some of the crew from Wellington R1298 (see credits) 2nd Right Sgt. W L Gosden (courtesy Lyndle Reece) Right Jon Fleming aged 4 with Uncle David Warburton (courtesy of Jon Fleming)

Time table of events - based on records from Crewe Barrage Balloon Flights at Kew:
12.55 hrs - Barrage Balloon 'D' Flight reported Wellington collided with balloon cable at site D4. D.P.L's supposed fired. Balloon breaks away. (1)
13.05 hrs - Signal sent to Balloon Command, 33 B.B. Group and 9 B.C. No A721.
13.10 hrs - Balloon seen drifting south west of site 27 at about 8,000 ft. Aircraft observed as flying northerly with flying wire attached.
13.11 hrs - Fl/Lt. Leigh ascertained that aircraft had crashed a quarter of a mile from Coppenhall Junction.
13.40 hrs - 'C' Flight reports that the crashed aircraft had burned out and all crew believed to be killed.
13.58 hrs - 'B' Flight reports that D.P.L. Unit had been found in Broad Street, Crewe. The D.P.L had not fired and the cartridge removed as a precaution.
14.05 hrs - Fl/Lt. Leigh ascertained that aircraft had crashed at Bourne's Farm, Minshull Vernon - 10 bodies recovered.
14.18 hrs - Details of accident sent to Sq/Ldr. Maloney of 33 Group Operations.
14.20 hrs - Group Captain 9 Bomber Command phoned - Engineer Officer Balloons investigating.
15.55 hrs - Sq/Ldr. Bligh at R.A.F. Bramcote informed.
Bodies of Sgt Gosden, W/O. Perkowski, Sgt. Wojciechowski, F/O. Minkiewicz, Sgt. Kwiatkowski, Sgt. Jachna and Sgt. Orynek to be collected tomorrow (Friday 07.02.1941) for funeral at Bramcote. F/O. Warburton, Sgt. Hill and Sgt. Abbott the next of kin requested that bodies are sent to their homes

It is also well worth mentioning two local Policeman who, at the time of the accident, attempted to rescue the crew members after the Wellington crashed and caught fire. They were both awarded the B.E.M. (British Empire Medal) for their gallant efforts

P.C. Ernest William Pocock and P.C. Frank Douglas Wiggins. Both from the Cheshire Constabulary. London Gazette 1st August 1941

Some of crew graves

Since this page of remembrance has been written, we have been contacted by another researcher, a Mr. Steve Bratt, from Crewe, Cheshire, who for a number of years, has been researching this and other losses in the area. Steve has supplied us with accurate information on the possible crash site. Further to this a Mr. Alan Clark the founder of the Peak district air crashes also provided Steve with the barrage balloon reports from the area after researching them at Kew.

Map showing probable crash locations. (courtesy Mr Steve Bratt) Another two aircraft crashed on the same day later in the war on March 20th 1943, in very similar circumstances, in the same area! Wellington III X3547 from 27 O.T.U., and an Airspeed Oxford DF477 (see map above for locations)

Twenty Two names added to the War Memorial Saturday 4th June, 2016

Mr John Headon has kindly placed the names of this crew in the War Memorial entry at the local Church. On behalf of the crew members we are indebted for his work to enable this to take place.

Some forty relatives attended the service on Saturday at the Bradfield Green War Memorial and were joined by official guest at this memorial service to remember the twenty two men who gave their lives in three separate aircraft accidents

The relatives included Harold Clark's daughters Pam and Pat and his granddaughter Reverend Sara Cliff and further family relatives included Squadron Leader Martin Cliff , Jon Flemming nephew of David Warburton and his niece Caroline Driscoll, Pati and Iwona Reks granddaughters of Ludwik Jachna, Claudette Tranter and further family relatives of Albert Wheeler,

Wreaths were laid by Air Attaché Australian High Commission Group Captain Paul Nicholas, Lukasz Lutostaski, Polish Consul General, Mr Philip Reade Crewe branch of the Royal British Legion, and many relatives. Further guest included Deputy Lord Lieutenant Dennis Dunn and Cheshire East Mayor Olivia Hunter and Parish Council Chairman Leslie Horne, Jim Seymour Polish Aircrew Memorial Committee to name but a few. The service was conducted by RAF Chaplin the Reverend Wing Commander Alistair Bissell

(Picture courtesy Dawn Kay)

Left to right:

Leslie Horne Chairman of the Parish Council holding the red, white and blue wreath, under the tree the Mayor of Cheshire East Olivia Hunter and Jim Seymour Polish Air Force Memorial Committee.

Centre: Pati and Iwona Reks (granddaughters of Ludwick Jachna R1298) are standing behind Reverend Sara Cliff (granddaughter of Harold Clark DF477) who is giving the reading. 2nd on the right is Group Captain Paul Nicholas RAAF Air Attaché, Australian High Commission, 4th right is RAF Chaplain The Reverend Wing Commander Alastair Bissell

Left: Jon Flemming and Caroline Driscoll Right: Pati and Iwona Reks (Picture courtesy Dawn Kay)

Left: Group Captain Paul Nicholas. Right: Lukasz Lutostanski Consul General for Poland (Picture courtesy Dawn Kay)

The many wreaths laid by relatives and guests (Picture courtesy Dawn Kay)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Robert Laurence Binyon

Barrage Balloon

To prevent low fights and pinpoint bombing by the Luftwaffe, the Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) put up huge barrage balloons. Each balloon was moored to a wagon by a steel cable. These cables were strong enough to destroy any aircraft colliding with them. On the wagon was a winch that enabled the RAF Balloon Command to control the height of the barrage balloon. The balloons achieved the main objective of discouraging dive bombing and low-level attacks. The British added two refinements to their balloons, 'Double Parachute Link' (D.P.L.) and 'Double Parachute/Ripping' (D.P.R) The former was triggered by the shock of an enemy bomber snagging the cable, causing that section of cable to be explosively released complete with parachutes at either end; the combined weight and drag bringing down the aircraft. The latter was intended to render the balloon safe if it broke free accidentally. The heavy mooring cable would separate at the balloon and fall to the ground under a parachute; at the same time a panel would be ripped away from the balloon causing it to deflate and fall independently to the ground.

The funerals of the crew buried at Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery (courtesy Mr. Bill Glover)

Note: The gentleman standing by the second coffin is the Maternal Grandfather of Mr Glover, Thomas Henry Cope, who at the time was standing in for his son, also Thomas Henry Cope, who was Superintendent of the cemetery, but was serving in the Army at the time. The chaplain conducting the service is a Fr. Mikołaj Sasinowski (information sent in March 2016 by Fr. Józef Łupiński)

Burial details:

F/O. David Warburton's headstone (courtesy Jan Oliver)

Pilot (Instructor) F/O. David Warburton. West Knoyle Churchyard, Wiltshire. Grave Ref: N. W. Corner. 
Son of Revd. Robert Warburton M. A. and of Evelyn Mary Warburton of Mere. Exhibitioner of B. N. C. Oxford

, England (1) David Warburton was highly regarded cricketer for Oxford University (Main FC 1939). He had played many matches as a right hand bats-man and as a fast bowler

The transcript and photograph below courtesy of Jon Fleming nephew of F/O David Warburton

"Flying Officer David Warburton came to Brasenose from Leeds Grammar School as a Dean Nowell Exhibitioner in Classics in Michaelmas Term 1938. When he came into residence he started reading for Honours Moderations and joined the OU Air Squadron. He brought with him a great reputation as a fast bowler and was tried for the University at the beginning of his first and only Summer Term, but the slow wickets, characteristic of the beginning of the cricket season, gave him little opportunity of proving his worth. He went on the Authentics Northern Tour and less than six weeks after his return David found himself in the RAFVR in which he was soon to obtain a Commission.

After some doubts he bravely decided to take the Special Honour Moderations at the end of October, although he felt himself ill-prepared. In spite of the difficulty of combining Service training with Classical study he succeeded in obtaining the Honours he sought. After completing his training he did much useful work in instructing Polish in bombers, before he was killed on Active Service in February 1941.

The news came as a shock to the many friends he had made in his short time at Oxford as well as to his comrades in the RAF, who from his CO downwards were quite unusually attached to him. David had joined the OU Squadron to learn to fly. He had no thought that he would be called upon to fight. He had imagination, and in spite of a certain outward austerity, a sensitive nature. He had a presentiment of coming death. But he had also a stern sense of duty, & he never doubted where his duty lay, although it was along a path which he did not wish to tread. He faced his task determinedly, though without that sense of exhilaration which would have made it so much easier for him. For he had the good qualities of the Yorkshireman-he was ambitious, determined, forthright, "straight & true". David put his whole heart into everything that he did-classics, cricket, airmanship. Cricket was his passion.

As a small boy he took Wisden to bed with him every night. It was a delight to see him bowl, for he was a trier who never gave up. It was a delight to see him make runs because it gave him such unaffected pleasure. David had a loyal & affectionate nature, and to no one did the call of Oxford come more strongly. No one re- visited us more frequently during those first 16 months of the war. His death brings to an end a life full of promise and has robbed the College of one from whom it expected much".

Written by "Joners" -Principal of Brasenose & Vice-Chancellor of Oxford.

Pilot (Under Training) W/O. Zbigniew Jan Perkowski. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. 26 War Graves Plot. Grave 97
From Brzezinach, Poland. No further details of next of kin (2) Born on the 29th August 1914 in Brzeziny. He took part in the Polish Campaign in 1939 as a pilot of the 42 Reconnaissance Squadron. After arriving in the UK he joined No. 15 Service Flying Training School, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and on the 20th August 1940 was posted to No. 18 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire

Pilot (Under Training) 

Sgt. Stefan Joachim Wojciechowski. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. 25 War Graves Plot. Section H. Coll. Grave 98
. No further details as yet.
 (3) Born 4th May 1915 (place unknown). He took part in the Polish Campaign in 1939 as a pilot of the 42 Reconnaissance Squadron. After arriving in the UK joined No. 15 Service Flying Training School, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire and on the 20th August 1940 was posted to No. 18 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire. Stefan Joachim Wojciechowski had been awarded the Polish Cross of Valour

Navigator (Instructor) Sgt. Victor Clarence Hill. Hounslow Cemetery. Plot A. Row G. Grave 18. 
Son of John Henry Hill of 104 Wellington-Road-South, Hounslow

, England (4) Sgt. V. C. Hill is remembered on the War Memorial, Arborfield Cross, Berkshire

Navigator (Under training) F/O. Andrzej Minkiewicz. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. 33 War Graves Plot. Section H. Coll. Grave 97
From Częstochowa, Poland. No further details of next of kin (5) Born on the 4th December 1907

Sgt. Bernard Thomas Abbott's headstone (courtesy of Ian MacFarlaine)

Sgt. Bernard Thomas Abbott. Sonning (St. Andrew) Churchyard. Grave Ref: S. E. Corner. 
Son of Thomas F. Abbott and Edith May Abbott of Barkham

, England (6) Bernard is remembered on the War Memorial, Arborfield Cross, Berkshire and also on the

Scouts Roll of Honour

Wireless Operator (Under Training) Sgt. Henryk Rafal Kwiathowski. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. 21 War Graves Plot. Section H. Coll. Grave 97. 
From Bydgoszcz, Poland. No further details of next of kin (7) Born on the 3rd February 1920 in Bydgoszcz. Graduated from the PAF NCO's School for Minors, studied at University of Technology in Lwow (now Lviv). Via Romania evacuated to France. Via Oran and Casablanca travelled to the UK. After arriving in the UK he was posted to No. 304 (Polish) Squadron in Bramcote and on 23rd September 1940 he then joined No. 18 Operational Training Unit (OUT) at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire

Air Gunner (Instructor) Sgt. Walter Lionel Gosden. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. Section K. Grave 4. 
Son of Alfred and Lily Agnes Gosden of Torbay, Auckland, New Zealand

Sgt. W L Gosden's War Medals (courtesy of Lyndle Reece

(8) Walter (Wallie) was born in Christchurch on the 12th June 1916. Part of his education was at Wellington Technical College. Wallie was employed in the Railway Department at Mataroa from 1935 until September 1939. He enlisted at Ohakea on the 24th October 1939 and trained as Air Gunner gaining his Air Gunners badge before embarking for the United Kingdom on the 17th February 1940. Arriving at No. 1 Depot, Uxbidge on the 9th April 1940 where he was posted to No. 75 NZ Squadron, Feltwell, Norfolk. During this time he was

promoted to the rank of Sergeant on the 27th May 1940. Sgt. W. L. Gosden was posted to No. 18 Operational Training Unit (OTU), RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire on the 31st January 1941. Walter was the eldest of six children born to Alfred and Lily. His brothers Stanley, Raymond, Desmond and Lindo were all serving in the services during the war. All the boys had played in the Onslow third grade rugby team before the war

Left: A family record (courtesy of Lyndle Reece)

Air Gunner (Under Training) Sgt. Ludwik Jachna. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. 26 War Graves Plot. Section H. Coll. Grave 98
. From Wola Rogowska, Poland. No further details of next of kin (9) Born on the 16th December 1909 in Wola Rogowska. Joined No. 18 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire on the 7th September 1940 arriving from No. 4 Air Gunners School, RAF West Freugh, Wigtownshire, Scotland

Sgt. Jan Piotr Orynek. Nuneaton (Oaston Road) Cemetery, Warwickshire. 26 War Graves Plot. Section H. Coll. Grave 98
No further details of next of kin (10) Born on the 20th August 1914 in Warsaw. Joined No. 18 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire on the 5th October 1940 arriving from No. 4 Air Gunners School, RAF West Freugh, Wigtownshire, Scotland

Researched by Kate Tame for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Steve Bratt, Alan Clark and John Headon for information, Peter Sikora, Henry Sokolowski - Polish Combatants Association, Canada, Mr. Bill Glover, Fr. Józef Łupiński, Jerzy Bogdan Cynk - "The Polish Airforce At War" Vol 1, Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - "Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945", Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 7", Commonwealth Graves Commission.

KTY 14.03.2016 further information sent in by Fr. Józef Łupiński. KT. Page updated with memorial information and pictures 17.06.2016

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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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At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
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