Halifax Crew crash near Colchester 25th February 1943

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

  1. CL1

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

    There is a lot about him on the internet

    Assigned to 63FS, 56FG, 8AF USAAF. Fatal Crash due to Engine Failure in P-47D 42-26413 S/E of Boxted/Sta 150. 30-Dec-44. Died non Battle (DNB).
    Samuel Keith Batson | American Air Museum in Britain
    Service numbers
    19178269 / O-714845
    Highest rank
    Second Lieutenant
    Fighter pilot
    • Air Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster
    • Purple Heart

    P-47 Encounter Reports
  2. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Thank you both for that information. Yes, I keep writing 'Mustang' when I should have put 'Thunderbolt.' Quite interesting to see this in the IWM and I'll follow this up. Thanks again.
  3. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    I had a standard automated response back from Duxford which was a bit confusing saying they may take time to answer enquiries then goes on to say they don't have the resources to answer individuals enquiries. That covers everything then!

    We are going to try and find relatives of Samuel Batson we've decided. So anyone interested in a bit of ancestry tracing please feel free to have a search. This is all we have to go on at the moment:

    Samuel Batson was the son of Henry and Therese Batson of Los Angeles, California. He's buried in Cambridge.

    I'll be posting on other sites to see if we can discover anything.
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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    2Lt Samuel Keith Batson (1922-1944) - Find A Grave... - a bit more background and perhaps the person who provided the details for his "Bio" may be family or have details of how to contact the family

    On Ancestry there are 2 family trees that include his details
    Samuel Keith Batson
    Birth: 7 October 1922 (7 Oct 1922) - Los Angeles County (Los Angeles), United States of America
    Death: 30 December 1944 (30 Dec 1944)

    unfortunately he appears to have been single when he was killed, so probably no direct family contacts but a high possibility of cousins etc

    If you dont have Ancestry and wish me to contact them, do so through a 'conversation'
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  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
    Name Samuel K Batson
    Birth Year 1922
    Race White, citizen
    Nativity State or Country California
    State of Residence California
    County or City Los Angeles
    Enlistment Date 18 Feb 1943
    Enlistment State Colorado
    Enlistment City Buckley Field Denver
    Branch Air Corps
    Branch Code Air Corps
    Grade Private
    Grade Code Private
    Term of Enlistment Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
    Component Reserves - exclusive of Regular Army Reserve and Officers of the Officers Reserve Corps on active duty under the Thomason Act (Officers and Enlisted Men -- O.R.C. and E.R.C., and Nurses-Reserve Status)
    Source Enlisted Reserve or Medical Administrative Corps (MAC) Officer
    Education 2 years of college
    Civil Occupation Mechanics and repairmen, airplane
    Marital Status Single, without dependents
    Height 67
    Weight 123

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  6. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Thanks for all of that info T.D.

    Simon tells me he's already been in touch with you earlier and explained what he's tried so far. If you can try a contact the Batson family through ancestry that would be helpful and much appreciated.
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  7. Richard Lewis

    Richard Lewis Member

    Just to confirm what you have already found out here is an excerpt from GSGS 3907 England & Wales 1:63,360 Sheet 97 Colchester(1940)


  8. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Thanks for that Richard, appreciated.

    Simon has been reviewing the map references on the 1943 Police Reports and by looking at this map he thinks it now gives us a better idea of the crash location.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  9. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Here are the diary entries of local man Eric Rudsdale relating to the crash of the Halifax. He was at one time the curator of Colchester Castle museum and also a Special Constable.

    We contacted Catherine Pearson who has collated some of his work into books which are published. Catherine kindly contacted the Rudsdale family and they have given us permission to show these entries. Although we have been allowed to share this for the purpose of the memorial project please note it still retains copyright.

    The hand written diary can be viewed at the Essex Records Office.

    I hope they are of interest.

    Extract from E.J. Rudsdale’s diary for 25/02/1943.

    Reproduced by kind permission of the Rudsdale family and Catherine Pearson, author of E.J.Rudsdale’s Journals of Wartime Colchester.

    (At that time Eric John Rudsdale was lodging with Mr Matthew and Mrs Joy Parrington who farmed at Sherbourne Mill, Lawford. Rudsdale was then working as Secretary to the Lexden and Winstree District Committee of the Essex War Agricultural Committee at Colchester where he had been seconded for the duration of the war.)

    As I was writing the above, heavy bombers began to go over, very low among thin clouds, so that the house trembled with the incessant roar. Several times I thought one or another seemed to be out of control, when suddenly a piercing scream detached itself from the general roar, and came down, down, louder and louder. I flung myself on the floor by the bed, there was a great red flash which showed through the curtains, and the house shook from an explosion. I ran out onto the stairs. Parry called “He’s dropping something. He’s coming down,” and I heard Joy answer from the backus door “He is down, there’s a fire”. I ran through the larder door into the garden. It was as light as day, and there was a leaping crimson glare towards the buildings. I ran up the track (and even remembered to fasten the gates). At Nunn’s cottage I could see the fire was not at the buildings, but towards Humberlands, I thought perhaps in the Broomhangings. I called “Fred are you there?” There was no answer, so I hurried on. At Humberlands Mrs Pat Parrington was standing at her door, anxiously watching the glare. Still bombers were roaring over, the air vibrating. Mrs P said she was very frightened, but thought the fire was a good way off. I hurried on, heart pounding, to the end of Bargate Lane, and could see flames leaping up beyond the Settlement houses.

    There were voices on the main road, and cycle lamps and torches moving along. Every house, every shed, stood out vividly in the glare, and from the reflections in their windows seemed to be themselves on fire.

    People cycled, ran, walked, all going towards the fire. A fire engine with a trailer pump came along from Manningtree, the bell clanging, and I could hear another coming from the Colchester direction. Two policemen cycled by, tall, calm and erect in capes and helmets, silhouetted against the fire. Now I could see a stack flaming, near the railway line, and hundreds of little fires all round. Every now and then a red or green flare would shoot up into the sky, glare, and go out. Ammunition was exploding rapidly, and I wondered where the bullets were going to. There was a group standing by the railway bridge, and I could hear scraps of conversations- “Yes, I heard it coming, thought it was a Jerry…” “Me and my sister got under the table. We wasn’t half scared!” (laughing)…, “Poor buggers, what a death…” A Home Guard on a cycle asked me if a fire engine had gone by, so I told him. Quite a crowd at Oak Corner, and people going up the lane by Home Farm, I went too. Another fire-engine came by, and a fireman dispatch rider. There was an old red engine by the horse-pond, its escape reared up in the road, beginning to pump. Went up the lane to Badliss Hall, crowds of people, police, specials, H.G.s, soldiers, firemen. Thousands of incendiary bombs were blazing in the fields before and behind us. Not fifty yards away a heap of straw was alight, with three or four incendiaries spluttering round it, but nobody seemed to take any notice.

    In the farm-yard were two motor-pumps roaring away, sucking water out of the pond. There were several fire trucks, lorries, motor cycles, and an army ambulance against the buildings. People were hurrying to and fro, their steps unheard amidst the roar of the pumps. I went right through, wondering all the time if English fire-bombs explode in the same way that German ones do, but apparently not. Went into the field just beyond the farm yard, which seemed to have been drilled recently. Bits of metal all over the place, everywhere you walked you touched them. Several incendiaries, one was lying on the edge of the ditch, apparently red hot, so I pushed it in with my foot, where-upon it burst into red flame, making me jump back quickly.

    There were firemen, farm labourers and a policeman searching about the field with torches, as the light from the stack was dying down. Fifty yards from the burning mass were two or three bundles, bits of clothing and equipment, but nothing recognisable. The labourers were examining one of them closely by the light of matches. The policeman began to clear everybody out of the field, so I went back through the farm yard. Two girls carrying a stretcher and blankets and a grim faced elderly man with another stretcher all wearing Civil Defence uniforms and hung round with respirators and haversacks, came pushing through the crowd. People said “Hullo, look’s as if they’ve found somebody.” An ATS girl, the driver of the army ambulance, said to the policeman “Do you think I ought to move up there?” he said “No, I shouldn’t miss, there’s nothing you can do, and you never know what you might be walking on.”

    Eversley Belfield was there, with a cycle. He seemed rather shaken by the affair. I asked after his mother and Penelope, but it seemed strange to stand there and make polite chat in the glare of the flames, with the fragments of six or seven men scattered round. I wondered who they were. Perhaps Americans?

    Walked back by way of Hungerdowns, feeling very tired, and with a bad heart pain, steadily getting worse. The pumps were stopped. I could hear the voices of the firemen quite clearly.

    Suddenly, just as I got to Kennel Cottages, there was a violent explosion. Thousands of coloured lights shot up above the Settlement houses, some bursting when high in the air. I stood entranced. It was for all the world like an old-time firework show. Then I heard a heavy piece of metal sighing through the air towards me, and flung myself flat on the road. It passed humming over me, and fell with a thud behind Kennel Cottages. I waited a second or two to see there was an explosion, but nothing happened, so I suppose it must have been a case of some sort.

    Walked back through Humberlands, feeling curiously exhilarated by the last incident. Parry and Joy had gone to bed. I don’t think a bomber crashing in their garden would keep them out of bed 5 minutes after their accustomed time. Gave them a brief account of what had happened and then to bed myself.

    February 26th Friday.

    Lovely day, warm and sunny. No sign of last night’s affair as I cycled past the settlement this morning. At lunch time heard that the raid was on Nuremberg. I am glad that one load of incendiaries, at any rate, did not fall on the old wooden buildings. The crew were Canadians. How curious that six or seven young men, born in the wilds or in the cities of Canada some 25 years ago should meet their deaths in an apple orchard at Ardleigh. The whole lot were blown to pieces, and most have been collected this morning. Nott, with his genius for misstatements, said he knew ‘for a fact’ they had been taken to Colchester Hospital, being injured when making landings by parachute.
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  10. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Earlier this week I was given permission to visit the plaque for Samuel Batson. It's situated in a heavily wooded area and apparently the reason for it being placed there on that particular tree is because that is where he was found hanging in his parachute. If he baled out after his engine failed he must have been too low.

    In this image on the left is Jill Hamblin the Ardleigh archivist and historian. On the right is the landowner who kindly took us to the location in his 4x4.

    The landowner doesn't know for sure who put the plaque there but has an idea who it was. From time to time flowers have been left there.

    Attached Files:

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  11. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    :flaguk::poppy:We have now kindly been sent an image of the Wireless Operator on the Halifax. Cyril D. Smith was 23 years old and came from Patna, Ayrshire. His daughter was born one month after he died in the crash.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
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  12. CL1

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

    Well done Stan great work all around

  13. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    The history sign has now been etched and completed. This looks very high quality and although I've not seen it other than in images I'd say the lettering is very similar to what the Commonwealth War Graves Commission use. The USAAF Thunderbolt Pilot Samuel Batson is featured in the upper left hand side and the Halifax crew the bottom right corner. The crews names are listed beneath the aircraft. The size of the sign is 1189 mm wide by 941 mm vertical, so quite large.

    There is a dark rippled brown background with the wartime features in white. The Halifax roundels are coloured in as is the Thunderbolt cowling. Central is a map showing where each feature was located and the numbered markers showing these locations are in green. Each item shown is more or less the same size.

    The sign has been sponsored by the GCG Environment Trust.

    I have to say I'm well impressed.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  14. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Simon and I considered the possibility of having the Halifax airmen's names awarded for new roads in the area. We explored this and approached the local council. This has now been accepted and confirmed.

    Five years ago when we arranged a memorial for a Lancaster bomber crew which crashed in 1944 near Colchester we looked into this concept for that seven airmen. This eventually resulted in road names on the Bellway Homes development on the former 'Betts' factory site which is near the A12 in Colchester.

    Phase two of this development comes under a different local council (Tendring) and they have kindly decided to add these new road names onto the development. Building work will take a couple of years at least so this will happen in the future. But at least that's another seven airmen who will be honoured in such a way.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
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  15. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    We have at last succeeded in finding a relative for Samuel Batson, the USSAF Thunderbolt Pilot.

    The cousin informs us that Samuel was more readily known by his second name 'Keith' which added to the confusion with our enquiries. He is interested and pleased to learn about the History Sign arrangements in September.
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  16. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Ref. the 30th September unveiling and dedication, we were expecting a local to come along with his authentic WW2 Bomber Command uniform complete with parachute. He is now unlikely to be able to come. If anyone has similar kit and is interested in turning up can they make contact on here, thanks.
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  17. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    We knew that the Halifax was carrying leaflets as well as ordinance. Here's a copy of the leaflet:

    Attached Files:

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  18. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    At a meeting today the arrangements for the dedication have been discussed and finalised. We are now set for Sunday the 30th.

    Expected duration of dedication / unveiling: up to 30 mins.

    Relatives representing all members of the Halifax bomber crew are expected to attend.

    There will be a small exhibition in the nearby village hall.

    The local press will be covering the event.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
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  19. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
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  20. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    Sunday was a very well attended and successful. Here's a few images. More to follow later.

    Image No. 3: Cyrileen Ross standing near the three RAF servicemen. She was born one month after her father (Wireless Operator Cyril James Smith RAF) was killed in the crash.

    Image No. 6: Robert Widgery at the microphone. (Son of Edward Leslie Widgery the RAF Flight Engineer on the Halifax). Behind him in a dark suit my fellow researcher Simon Gallup.

    Image No.9: The man with the beard at the front of the sign is Jon Dudley. He came to Essex in 2013 for the first time and left a written tribute to his uncle near to the crash site. The tribute was later seen by a friend of mine who suggested I should research the crash. Jon Dudley's uncle was one of the Air Gunner's on the Halifax. I think Mid Upper Gunner. Standing next to Jon Dudley (on his left) is Sir Bernard Jenkin M.P. who unveiled the History Sign

    In the foreground the man with the walking aid is 93 year old Peter Potter. Peter lives locally and served as a Tail Gunner at 626 Squadron Wickenby. He survived 33 Operations. During the war life expectancy of a Tail Gunner was just 5 Op's.

    Image 10: The day before the ceremony this little chap was sitting on the wrapped up sign.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
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