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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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RAF Crest
No. 2 School of Air Navigation Oxford DF477 F/O. Wheeler

Operation: Navigation training?

Date: 20th March 1943 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 2 School of Air Navigation

Type: Airspeed Oxford

Serial: DF477

Base: RAF Cranage, Cheshire.

Location: Mottrams Farm, Ash Bank, Crewe.

Pilot: F/O. Albert Edward Wheeler DFC 50363 RAF Age 32. Killed

Crew: L.A.C. John Gordon Stoneham 1396881 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Crew: Fl/Sgt. Harold Clark 1023954 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Crew: L.A.C. Frank Edward Hughes 1394564 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Update January 2015 - Memorial plans are still in preparation  We would like to appeal for any relatives of this crew to contact us. 


Took off from R.A.F. Sealand returning to its base at Cranage, understood to be a navigational training exercise and crashed at Mottrams Farm, Ash Bank, Crewe having collided with a barrage balloon protecting the Rolls Royce works in Crewe.

W/O. Albert Edward Wheeler 590017 on the 15th October 1942 promoted to Flying Officer on probation. Awarded the DFC whilst with 210 Squadron for 'For gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations' on the 25th July 1941. During his time at 210 Squadron he was flying both Sunderlands and Catalinas. On the 20th July 1941 left Sullom Voe in the Shetlands at 23.25 hrs on Catalina W8418 to Archangel, northern Russia with 'Special Passengers'. After serving with 210 squadron moved to 4 OTU as an instructor and then between 17th June 1942 - 14th October at RAF Cranwell. Transferred following his commission to General Duties Branch on 15th October 1942.


No. 949 Barrage Balloon squadron reports that the aircraft was flying at about 1,000 ft with the time of accident about 15.25 hrs.

There were several other incidents in the same area, indeed even on the same day, a Wellington from 27 O.T.U also crashed in similar circumstances, just 6 minutes earlier!

Another Wellington crashed earlier in the war, again, similar circumstances. 

                       Map showing probable crash locations. With thanks to further assistance on these locations by Mr. Steve Bratt.


                                                                 Airspeed Oxford (archives)

Burial details:

The bodies were taken to R.A.F. Cranage the following day, then arrangements made to move them to their home towns.

F/O. Albert Edward Wheeler. Birkenhead (Landican) Crematorium. Son of Augustus and Matilda Wheeler; husband of Doris Haddock Wheeler, of Chester. England.

L.A.C. John Gordon Stoneham. Eltham Cemetery, Woolwich. Sec. A. Grave 262. Son of William and Caroline Stoneham, England.

Fl/Sgt. Harold Clark. Swinton Cemetery. Sec. A. Grave 3290. Son of Harry and Bertha Clark; husband of Kathleen Louise Clark, of Swinton, England.

L.A.C. Frank Edward Hughes. Deal Cemetery. Plot C. Block 8. Grave 4818. Son of Frederick William and Monica Hughes, of Deal, England.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to Steve Bratt, Alan Clark, Ross McNeil, the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

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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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