Date: 07/08th April 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 22 Operational Training Unit. 6 Group
Type: Wellington Ic
Code: Not issued
Base: RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire
Location: Near Great Coxwell, Oxfordshire
Pilot (Inst): P/O. John Mervyn Warnock NZ/402231 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
Pilot (U/T): Sgt. Vernon Lewis Morris R/73169 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Pilot (U/T): Fl/Sgt. Donald Schlueter Woodley R/75098 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Colin Havelock Wheatley J/16324 RCAF Age 24. Injured (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John William Scarff R/74880 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Edward Wilman 777705 RAFVR Age ? Injured (2)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off on a cross country exercise when at 01:20 hrs the starboard engine failed whilst flying at 2,000 ft.
They were then unable to maintain height on a single engine. The Wellington crashed into a tree, about half a mile south west of Great Coxwell in Oxfordshire (then Berkshire) during an attempted forced landing.
It was concluded during he subsequent investigation that the blame of the height loss was attributed to the pilot instructor changing seats in the turbulent air conditions prevailing at the time of the accident.
(1) The then Fl/Lt. Colin Wheatley, seriously injured and not able to return to service until December 1942 - was killed later, on the 24th November 1943 on Wellington LN329 LF-N whilst with 37 Squadron. The pilot, Fl/Lt. Rae Jessep Taaffe DFM and all 5 other crew killed on an operation to bomb the ball bearing factory in Turin, Italy. (Fl/Lt. Hedley William Fitch J/3485 RCAF, Fl/Sgt. Denys William Croker 922939 RAFVR, Sgt. John Shelton 1379941 RAFVR, Sgt. William George Holme 1325759 RAFVR.
(2) Sgt. Kenneth Wilman from South Rhodesia, taken PoW No: 25647 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf. Whilst on an operation to Duisburg on Halifax W1211 NP-J whilst with 158 Squadron on the 25th July 1942. 1 killed (Sgt. Basil Osborne Collins 920126 RAFVR), 6 taken PoW (Fl/Lt. Geoffrey Hall Porter 70549 RAFVR, Sgt. Clarence Gissing 546669 RAFVR, Sgt. John Robert Patterson R/67344 RCAF, Sgt. Frank Neil Linklater R/83586 RCAF, Sgt. Donald Alexander Hall R/92670 RCAF, Sgt, Frank Neil Linklater R/83586 RCAF, Sgt. Basil Osborne Collins 920126 RAFVR).
P/O. John Mervyn Warnock. Black Bourton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row E. Grave 2. Born on the 13th April 1915 at Richmond, New Zealand, the son of John Alfred and Margaret Frances Warnock (née Eden), of Woodville, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. Prior to service worked for Alexander Clark as an interior decorator. A total of 510 flying hours logged and having completed 19 operational Sorties.
Sgt. Vernon Lewis Morris. Black Bourton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row F. Grave 2. Son of John and Amy Alberta Morris, of Durham Bridge, York County, New Brunswick, Canada. Grave inscription: "In God He Put His Trust".
Left: Sgt. Vernon Morris RAF Identity Card
Fl/Sgt. Donald Schlueter Woodley. Black Bourton Churchyard (St. Mary). Row E. Grave 4. Born on the 06th August 1919 at Moose Jaw, the son of Clarence A. Woodley and Daisy Schlueter Woodley, of 734 Seventh Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. A clerk prior to service with the RCAF.
Woodley Lake in Saskatchewan was named after F/Sgt. Woodley in 1960
Fl/Sgt. John William Scarff. Ainsdale Roman Catholic Cemetery (Sacred Heart). Sec. B. Grave 2. Son of Thomas Henry and Martha Scarff, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
William was buried with his maternal Great Grandparents, William and Mary Halsall, in Southport (Birkdale) Roman Catholic Cemetery, Lancashire, United Kingdom.
Photo courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada (CVWM)
Fl/Lt. Colin Havelock Wheatley. Milan War Cemetery. IV. B. 9. Born on the 20th June 1919 at Wilkie, Saskatchewan, the son of Mr and Mrs Wheatley of 1500 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Canada. His brother Fl/Sgt. Peter Wheatley served as a fighter pilot in the Middle East.
Photo courtesy Montreal Gazette from Veterans Affairs Canada (CVWM)
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand.
Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Canada; Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947;
Other sources as quoted below:
CHB 03.11.2021 Crew Identity Cards, grave marker and newspaper clipping added. canadian geographic feature added
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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