Halifax Crew crash near Colchester 25th February 1943

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by STAN50, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    A while back a friend of mine gave me some information about a Halifax crew which crashed near Colchester in 1943.

    I'm just curious if anyone can add anything.

    Info I've been given:

    I think the aircraft was listed as between serial range of DT767 - DT808, Halifax Mark 11. It belonged to 102 Squadron.

    It took off from Pocklington at 19.20 25th February 1943, encountered severe weather and crashed 20.24 at 'Badliss Farm' near Ardleigh (on the outskirts of Colchester).

    Crew were:

    The Pilot : Sgt Charles Henry Bray - buried at St. Catherine churchyard Ringshall Row B, age we think was 27;

    The Air Bomber: Sgt. Thomas Bertam Barfoot - buried at St. Leonards church Birdingbury Warwickshire; 'south of church;' age 19.

    Observer: Sgt. Leonard Victor William Herbert, buried at Eltham cemetery Woolwich, section A grave 299; age 22.

    Wireless Operator: Sgt. Cyril James Drane Smith; buried at Patna old cemetery, Ayrshire, grave 149; age 23.

    Air Gunner: Sgt. John Dudley, buried at Titsey St. James churchyard, Surrey S.E. corner; age 20.

    Flight Engineer: Sgt. Edward Leslie Widgery, buried at Oystermouth cemetery Swansea Glamorgan, Section N grave 193, age 35.

    Air Gunner: Sgt. Irving Louis Sanitsky, buried at Jewish section of Norwich cemetery Norfolk, grave 235. This crew member was in the RCAF. His parent apparently were Ida and Simon of 'Fall River Massachusetts, U.S.A. His age was 22.

    Some eagle eyed members on here will know that back in 2013 friends and I constructed a memorial for the crew of a Lancaster which crashed almost the same date one year later (25th April 1944). This wasn't that far away from this 1943 crash strangely enough. In 2013 we went to great lengths to have an unveiling ceremony with many relatives present. I'm not planning to do anything to same extent (it was very hard work), but at the same I'm thinking it would be nice if we could find out a bit more about this1943 incident.

    If anyone's willing to look up information, verify what the above is correct and / or obtain pictures of the graves around the country for me I'd be grateful if they could post on here.

    I know there's some great historians on here. Many thanks in advance if anyone's interested in a little research.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  2. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Mill House, Birdingbury, Rugby Warwickshire
    Charles Barfoot 30 May 1883 Smallholder Heavy Worker
    Constance E (Eugene) Barfoot 11 Apr 1890 Housewife
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Thomas B Barfoot 31 Mar 1923 Electric Appliances Fitter Heavy Worker
  3. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    9 Wimmerfield Drive, Swansea, Glamorganshire
    Edward L Widgery 30 Oct 1907 Dealer General Household Goods
    Sorry, this record is officially closed. Check if you can open a closed record.
    Michael J Widgery 13 Jul 1939 Under School Age


  4. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Leonard Victor William Herbert

  5. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member




    Flight Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Irving Louis Sanitsky
    BIRTH 8 May 1920 Chelsea, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
    DEATH 25 Feb 1943
    BURIAL Earlham Road Cemetery Norwich, City of Norwich, Norfolk, England
    PLOT Jewish Sec. Grave 235.

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  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

  7. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

  8. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    There's a rather sparse thread from 2012 on RAF Commands which gives the serial number as DT800, aircraft as DY-P, on an operation to Nuremberg that night. The Squadron ORB (Form 541) says "Aircraft crashed at 2024 hours at Bayliss Hall Farm, Nr Colchester. Aircraft burnt out all crew killed." The Form 540 doesn't add much: "11 aircraft detailed to attack NURNBERG. Aircraft 'P' (Sgt Bray) crashed on outward journey near Colchester. All the crew being killed". Charles Bray's rank on his headstone is given as Flight Sergeant.

    Sgt Bray and his crew were new to the squadron, posted that month from 1652 C.U. - Sgt Bray flew a 2nd dickie op with the Stinson crew to Lorient on 7th February, and another a week later to Cologne with W/O Cranwell. The Bray crew flew their first op on 18th February, a successful Gardening operation to the East Frisians; they were killed on the outward leg of their next op, their first 'full' one with the squadron.


    Edit: beaten to it by Kev (nothing new there) with the a/c serial!
  9. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Thanks for that information harkness and Kevin and Pat, much appreciated. I may explore further with this depending on what else comes along.

    I'm amazed that already an image of one of the crew has been posted. Well done.

    I've sent an enquiry to the Wartime memories project and I'm going to have a visit to the area where this crash happened. Looking at the 1939 Register Transcription 'closed' files it seems it's £23 to search for each record. I might therefore might post something on an ancestry website first.

    I've also put a post on the old thread on the RAF Commands forum. Thank you Pat for that heads up.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  10. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    I've had some replies on 'Rootschat' which I'm digesting. I'm not great at this sort of thing but am sifting through. And someone kindly put a link to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial for me (I should have remembered to use that myself) which shows that Irving Sanitsky was credited with 5 German aircraft shot down and awarded for it. see link here:

    Irving Louis Sanitsky - The Canadian Virtual War Memorial - Veterans Affairs Canada

    harkness - maybe you could submit the images you put on here of Sanitsky to the Veterans Affairs Canada Virtual War Memorial?

    Today I've St. Catherines church in Ringshall Suffolk and seen Pilot Charles Bray's grave. Inside the church interestingly someone has made up a folder of other Pilots that are buried there from various dates, some post war. And there are quite a few black and white images of another bomber crew taken at their funeral who are all buried in the grounds together.

    Attached Files:

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  11. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    :flaguk::flaguk:Having visited the area today where Badliss Hall Farm was, I was directed to a local archivist who was most helpful. I have gained some valuable information about one of the airmen, Charles Bray the Pilot of the Halifax. Below is a picture of him and his funeral at St.Catherines church in Ringshall Suffolk. His brother Alec V. Bray was also in the RAF and was a Flight Lieutenant. He visited the land owner in 1983 and was shown the crash site.

    The land ownership has changed hands apparently so I am going to make further enquires to see if we can find out more.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  12. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member


    Cyril married Mary Blane Watt in Patna, East Ayrshire 1942. He's not using the middle name Drane then, though it is one of his fathers fore names.

    The closest birth I can see is 1922 in Rutherglen, but this doesn't tally with CWGC age.
  13. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Thanks amberdog for that information.

    All the information we'd seen for the Pilot Charles Bray showed no age. However we now beleive he was 27 years old.
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  14. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    I'm going to send you a private message. There's a possibility Cyril's daughter may still be alive.
  15. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  16. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    No 2 Evelyn Avenue, Godstone, Surrey
    George W Dudley 21 Apr 1889 Shepherd
    Grace Dudley 01 Jul 1894 Unpaid Domestic Duties
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Emily Abdey 05 Oct 1895 Unpaid Domestic Duties
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Peter J Abdey 22 Jul 1937 Under School Age
  17. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    harkness and CL1 many thanks for those bits. I've worked out a possible lead for Dudley. I will be sending an e-mail shortly.

    Amberdog I have checked out the lead on Cyril's daughter but it seems to be a negative. However, I will follow this up by normal post (snail mail).

    Someone on the Airfield Information Exchange has given me a little snippet of information. The crash site was Badliss Hall Farm bordering on Home Farm. (I didn't know the 'Home Farm' bit). The aircraft had caused a crater 30feet wide and 5 feet deep apparently. This came from an Essex Police Report which may still be held in the Chelmsford Records Office. something else for me to check out.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  18. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    CL1 thanks again for alerting me to the Gravestone Photographic Resource.
    Image added here remains their copyright.

    Attached Files:

  19. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Stan the image is small but they will send a higher res image on request
    if you need a cemetery visit let me know
  20. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Thanks, CL1. I've requested a better image.

    Thanks to 'Sandra' on Rootschat I've been guided to a newspaper article about Irving Sanitsky. If you can mange to enlarge it, it's an interesting read. He did not like the Nazis one jot and talks about what he would do if he had to bale out over Germany.

    Attached Files:

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