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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
26.09.1943 No. 14 OTU Wellington IC DV697 Fl/Sgt. Woods

Operation: Training

Date: 26th September 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 14 Operational Training Unit (92 Group)

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: DV697

Code: Not known (Aircraft named Sir George Huggins OBE (1)

Base: RAF Husbands Bosworth (2)

Location: Near River Welland, South East of airbase

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Jack William Woods AUS/410584 RAAF Age 23. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Ian Woodman Ferguson 1322786 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Frank Preston Moorby 151848 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Munro Mearns Fraser AUS/419177 RAAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Lewis 1592176 RAFVR Survived - seriously injured


Taking off at 15:04 hrs on a training exercise. The pilot (according to reports stated by the surviving rear gunner and eye witness reports) had noticed that the port engine was not providing the same power as the starboard engine. The pilot requested permission to land and approached the runway.

During this Sgt. Lewis reported black smoke from the port engine, the pilot realising that the engine was rapidly failing announced to the crew that he was going to carry out an overshoot. The undercarriage was already lowered and had full flaps at this time.The port engine then failed completely and the pilot was not able to hold the resulting swing to port. At 17:05 hrs he warned the crew that he was to cary out a crash landing but his control of the aircraft was never regained and the Wellington flew into the ground from about 600 ft.

The subsequent report stated that he should have throttled back the starboard engine and then he could have made a crash landing. The cause was determined to be engine failure but both engines were buried deep and badly burned - impossible to determine why the engine failed. All the crew were still undergoing training at the time of the accident.

Mr. Tony Glover visited the crash site and photographed the memorial placed to the crew in August 2018 for Aircrew Remembered. A memorial tree, a Eucalyptus was donated by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Please note: The memorial which was unveiled in December 2010 arranged by Husbands Bosworth and District Branch of the Royal British Legion in conjunction with the Parish Council, is on private land and visitors must obtain permission from the landowner.

Inscription: "Flt/Sgt. J.W. Woods RAAF. Sgt I.W. Ferguson RAF. Sgt J.M.M. Fraser RAAF. P/O. F.P. Moorby Died here on 26th September 1943 in Wellington bomber No: DV697 named Sir George Huggins OBE. Donated by the Trinidad Bomber Fund. The Australian High Commission have donated this Eucalyptus tree as a symbol of the homeland of these countrymen who perished here in the course of duty. Donated by the members of the Royal British Legion. We Will Remember Them. December 2010 R.I.P".

(1) Sir George Frederick Huggins (1869-1941) of Trinidad purchased and named this aircraft - he also fully supported the allied efforts during the early part of the war as well as running his own business empire - Trinidad Publishing Company, Citrus Growers Association and others.

(2) As a training and type conversion unit Husbands Bosworth understandably suffered losses. Young men some of just 18 years of age were given control of large and heavy twin-engined aircraft and expected to fly in all weathers. The Wellington was an unforgiving aircraft at the best of times, with a marked propensity to put it's nose down and fly into the ground. Many accident reports cite pilot inexperience as contributory to the accident!

Burial details:

Most of the crew were buried at Botley on the 30th September at 11:30 hrs. P/O. Moorby's body was returned to his hometown for a family burial.

Fl/Sgt. Jack William Woods. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot I/2. Grave 77. Born on the 24th August 1920 at Camberwell, the son of Frederick George and Eva Victoria Woods, of 230 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia. His fiancee, Miss Thursfield of 108 Victoria Street, Dulwich Hill was also informed. Grave inscription reads: "He Loved England, He Died For England. Our Jack".

Sgt. Ian Woodman Ferguson. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot I/2. Grave 79. Son of Mark H. G. Ferguson and Agnes Muriel Ferguson, of Swindon, Wiltshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "They Shall Grow Not Old As We That Are Left Grow Old".

P/O. Frank Preston Moorby. Barton-Under-Needwood Churchyard (St. James). N.E. part. Son of Henry Preston Moorby and Jessie Moorby, of Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire, England and husband of Mary Kathleen Moorby.

Sgt.James Munro Mearns Fraser. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot I/2. Grave 78. Born on the 25th April 1923 at Brighton, Victoria, the son of James Hill Mearns Fraser and Clara Miller Fraser, of 5 Thompson Street, Gardenvale, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Greater Love Hath No Man".

For further details our thanks to Tony Glover for memorial photographs, Stephen Potts, also to Military Images for grave photos, the following sources shown below.

KTY 06.08.2018

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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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