My tribute to the crew of Wellington BK440.

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by RCG, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. RCG

    RCG Senior Member

    About a year ago I was reminded about an aircraft which had crashed close to the village of Hindolveston, Norfolk where I live. Knowing that there was no memorial or plaque in the village, I had assumed that there had been no fatalities.
    However after a little research I found a very different story.

    Wellington BK440.

    First served with No. 426 (B) Squadron, R.C.A.F. coded 'OW-V'.

    Flew attack at Wilhelmshaven February 24/25, 1943. Attacked 5 times by Ju 88, resulting in a large hole in the fuselage.

    Flew attack at Essen March 12/13, 1943. Attacked by fighter, no damage.

    Flew attack on Kiel April 4/5, 1943. Attacked by single engine fighter, no damage.

    Transferred to RAF Little Horwood, 26 operational training unit. (OTU). Code EU-?

    On the 11th December 1943, Wellington BK440 took off from RAF Little Horwood, 26 O.T.U. detailed to carry out a navigation training sortie, and crashed near Park Farm, Hindolveston, eight miles E.S.E. of Fakenham in Norfolk. All the crew were killed.
    Crew:
    RAF Flt Sgt A Merridew, Captain (Pilot)
    RAF Sgt S Wilson, (Navigator)
    RAAF Flt Sgt N Doherty, (Bomb Aimer)
    RAF Sgt E W Brown, (Wireless Air Gunner)
    RCAF Sgt W E Martin, (Air Gunner)
    RCAF Sgt A W Ellis, (Air Gunner)
    Five of the crew were buried on the 16th Dec in the Cambridge City cemetery, Cambridgeshire, UK. The Cemetery is known locally as the Newmarket Road Cemetery.
    Sgt E W Brown is buried in the Rushden Cemetery, Northamptonshire, UK.

    Now I found it strange that a village that lost 15 men in WW1 and every Remembrance Sunday would commemorate them. Yet it appeared that very few people knew about these brave men.
    So rightly or wrongly in the way I have done it, I decided to bring it to their attention.

    At midnight last night I erected these signs outside my house.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With the result.

    [​IMG]

    Hopefully in the future there will be a memorial to these brave boys.
    Thanks to those who have helped me with information, to create this display.
    Drew ;)

    Will post more detailed information later, but have to get out and fix lights on the display and straighten the legs out.:D.
     
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  2. RCG

    RCG Senior Member

    ACCIDENTS_INVESTIGATION_BRANCH.

    Precis_of_Investigation_No._W.1725.

    Aircraft: Wellington III. BK,440 Engines: Hercules XI.

    Port: SS.2700/A.187940
    Stbd: H.50784/A.151118

    Command:
    Bomber

    Unit: No. 26 O.T.U, Wing.

    Pilot: F/Sgt Merridew, A – Killed, Crew: Sgt. Wilson, S. Nav. - Killed.

    Sgt. Doherty, N. A/B. – Killed.

    Sgt. Brown, E. WO/AG. – Killed.

    Sgt. Ellis, A.W. R/G. – Killed.

    Sgt. Martin, W. A/G. – Killed.

    Place: Hindolveston, Norfolk. Date & Time: 11/12/43 at 0200 hrs.

    Brief Description.

    The pilot was engaged on a practice cross-country flight over a route as follows: Base, Northampton, Melton Mowbray, Fakenham, Stowmarket, Savernake, Northampton, Bombing Range, Base. Earlier the same evening this exercise had been successfully completed by flight Sergeant Merridew accompanied by a screened pilot whom he had satisfied as to his competence to repeat the practice together with his crew. The same aircraft was used after refuelling and an inter- flight inspection. The flight commenced at 0045 hrs and appears to have proceeded normally for one hour and fifteen minutes. The aircraft was then sound plotted by the R.O.C. post at N Elmham proceeding in a north-Easterly direction at an estimated height of 1,000 ft. Shortly after it had gone out of earshot there was a tremendous flash and the sound of the impact was heard. The only message from the aircraft during the flight was a position signalled at 0152 hrs, indicating it to be at 52.47 N, 00.17 E., which was in the vicinity of Sutton Bridge, 36 miles west of the scene of the accident. The R.O.C. plot then showed it to be flying at 8,000 ft.

    Inspection at the scene of the accident indicated that a structural failure had occurred at a comparatively low altitude, but there was a trail of fabric extending for over 2,000 yards. The aircraft had stuck the ground at a very steep angle and was disintegrated and burnt by fire which occurred on impact. There was no evidence to show any attempt had been made to abandon the aircraft.



    A detailed examination of the parts which became detached in the air revealed the following :-

    Mainplanes: Both outer wings had failed in download, the port at station 20 and the starboard at station 16.

    Fuselage: This had broken away at station 82 approximately and carried only major parts of fin and rudder, the top portions of which were found elsewhere. The tail turret had broken away separately.

    Tailplanes: Both port and starboard had broken off in download at the attachments to the fuselage. The plans were lying less than 50 yards apart and almost stripped of fabric. The starboard tailplane still had the elevator attached: it was comparatively intact. The port elevator was in six separate pieces, the spar being broken at each hinge point. These six pieces were not very widely separated from each other or from the tailplane. The port tab was broken in two, opposite No. 2 elevator hinge; it had gone with the elevator. The old type jack (Pt. No.1399) was fitted to this side whereas the new type (Pt. 8352) was on the starboard elevator. It was noted that the starboard jack was free but that the port jack had gone to the limit of its travel and had stuck there. It is considered that this was due to the pulling of the control wires in the break-up. It was impossible to check the positions of the tabs from what remained of the pilot’s control.

    Fabric: This was widely scattered and extended back for over 2,000 yards and was noteworthy for the number and smallness of the pieces. Examination showed that the fuselage fabric was among the earliest pieces but that tailplane pieces were also well distributed. The stringing had almost invariably parted leaving short ends in the fabric.

    /other

    Weather Conditions.

    Cloud 10/10ths with base at about 2,000 ft extending up to 8,000 ft. Visibility below cloud 12 miles. In the cloud there was high icing index and freezing level was given as 2,000ft. Wind N.N.E. 6 M.P.H. Bright moonlight outside cloud. It was observed by the R.O.C. witness at N. Elmham that a heavy hailstorm occurred two minutes after the accident.

    Pilot’s History.

    The pilot’s total flying time amounted to 556 hrs, much of which was done on target towing duties in single-engine aircraft. His experience on Wellingtons, dual and solo was 43 hrs by day and 19 hours by night. His instrument flying amounted to 6 hours solo and 64 hours total on the link trainer.

    He was assessed as an “Average” pilot. There were two notifications of “carelessness” in his log book.

    Aircraft History.

    The aircraft was built by Vickers, Broughton works in October 1943 (Typing error should be 42) and had completed a total of 546.40 hours in the air, and 20.15 hours since the last minor inspection. Neither Mod. 1603 nor Mod.1883 had been incorporated but in this instance the absence of these did not cause the spar failure. There had been no recent repairs to the fabric or airframe.

    Conclusions.

    The accident was caused by loss of control which was followed by structural failure in the ensuing dive. The primary cause of loss of control has not been established but probably occurred in cloud or icing conditions. It is known that Wellington aircraft become progressively nose heavy at high speed and that this tendency if not corrected will quickly lead to failure of the wings and tailplane under download conditions.

    It is considered that the stripping of the fabric on the fuselage was the result of the stresses imposed in a high speed drive. The tailplane fabric probably became detached during the breakup.

    The R.O.C. 1,000 ft plot of the aircraft just prior to the crash was by sound only and is considered unreliable.

    C.I. (Accidents). Unknown signature.

    4/2/44. For C.I. (Accidents).





    Distribution: Bomber Command.

    R.A.E.

    A.M.File. No. G.38731/43.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. CL1

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


    [​IMG]
    BROWN, ERIC WILFRED

    Rank:
    Sergeant
    Trade:
    Wireless Op./Air Gunner
    Service No:
    1579075
    Date of Death:
    11/12/1943
    Age:
    20
    Regiment/Service:
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Grave Reference:
    Sec. F. Grave 626.
    Cemetery:
    RUSHDEN CEMETERY
    Additional Information:
    Son of Harry Wilfred and Violet Brown, of Finedon; husband of Patricia Mary Brown.Sgt Eric Wilfred Brown ( - 1943) - Find A Grave Memorial
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
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  4. CL1

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

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  5. CL1

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

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  6. CL1

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

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  7. CL1

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

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  8. CL1

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

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  9. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    ELLIS, ARTHUR WILLIAM
    Rank:
    Sergeant
    Trade:
    Air Gunner
    Service No:
    R/190987
    Date of Death:
    11/12/1943
    Age:
    32
    Regiment/Service:
    Royal Canadian Air Force
    Grave Reference:
    Grave 14149.
    Cemetery:
    CAMBRIDGE CITY CEMETERY
    Additional Information:
    Son of Arthur Albert and Margaret Ellis, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
     

    Attached Files:

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  10. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    MARTIN, WILLIAM EDWARD
    Rank:
    Sergeant
    Trade:
    Air Gunner
    Service No:
    R/200832
    Date of Death:
    11/12/1943
    Regiment/Service:
    Royal Canadian Air Force

    Born Brantford, Ontario 29 November 1919. Son of Bert William and Bertha Normal (née Hardy) Martin. Enlisted Hamilton, Ontario 14 November 1942.

    Regards,

    Dave
     

    Attached Files:

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  11. RCG

    RCG Senior Member

    CL 1. Thanks for putting those up, it has saved me loads of time.
    RAF Flt Sgt Arthur Merridew, (Pilot).
    No other info.

    RAF Sgt Stuart Wilson, (Navigator).
    Again no other info, except that his parents were married on 22nd May 1915 in Hollaway Middlesex.

    RAAF Flt Sgt Nicholas Doherty, (BombAimer).
    His obituary was in, The Argus Melbourne. Dec 29th 1943
    DOHERTY-On December 11 (air operations England), Sgt.-Obs Nicholas, R.A.A F., dearly beloved son of Daniel and Bridget Doherty, 45 Miller street, Essendon, loving brother of Mary (Mrs. L. White), Anthony, Ursula (Mrs. W. Lupson). And Monica (deceased), aged 20 years. -R.I.P.

    RAF. Sgt Eric Wilfred Brown, (Wireless/op Air Gunner).

    DoB: 05-Oct-1923

    Schools: Admitted from Moor Road Infants to Alfred St, 31-Aug-1931
    Left Alfred St for Rushden Intermediate: 01-Aug-1935.
    Worked for Messrs. Richard Thomas and Co. Ltd. As a shoe and boot worker until he joined the RAF Dec 1941.

    Married Patricia Mary Brown, nee Kay. 18th,September, 1943.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    How did their parents cope?

    Evening Telegraph, 18th December 1943, transcribed by Kay Collins

    Tragic News Arrives Before Wedding - Finedon Bride Bereaved : Airman Brother’s Death

    A few minutes before a wedding was due to take place on Saturday afternoon telegrams arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Brown, 9, Thrapston-road, Finedon. Some were of a congratulatory character, but one notified them and their daughter, the bride to be, of the death in action of their airman son and brother, Sergt. Eric Wilfred Brown.

    Sergt. Brown married 12 weeks ago Miss Patricia Kay of Manchester. He joined the R.A.F. in December, 1941 and was a wireless operator. He was 20 years of age, being born at Rushden, where the funeral will take place. As a lad he attended the Rushden Intermediate School, where he excelled at athletics, particularly running and football. Messrs. Richard Thomas and Co. Ltd. were his employers.

    With the wedding preparations so well advanced, it was not considered advisable to postpone the ceremony. The bride was Miss Elva May Brown, sister of Sgt. Brown, who is in the W.A.A.F., and the ceremony took place at Finedon Parish Church, the Rev. G. S. Downes, Vicar of All Saints, Wellingborough, officiating.

    http://www.rushdenheritage.co.uk/war/memorial%20men/brownEW1943NM.html


    Note: K.I.A. Killed in Action is incorrect as this was a training accident.

    It should be K.O.A.S. Killed on Active Service.

    Thanks Alieneyes, better pictures than I have.

    RCAF Sgt William Edward Martin, (Air Gunner)
    Thanks to Niagara falls public library
    [​IMG]

    RCAF Sgt Arthur William Ellis, (Air Gunner)
    Full history here. Medals sold for $425. No reply from emedals when I asked them to pass on information to the buyer.
    WWII Memorial Group to Air Gunner A.W.Ellis RCAF
     
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  12. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Thanks to Drew for creating the memorial and documenting the results of his research on here . Plus thanks to CL1 & Dave for the additional information provided and for the grave photos .

    Per Ardua Ad Astra
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
  13. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    England. 1943-12-16. The funeral party with the coffin on the gun carriage at the cemetery at the funeral service for 419461 Sergeant N. Doherty who was buried at Cambridge.

    England. 1943-12-16. The funeral party with the coffin on the gun carriage at the cemetery at the funeral service for 419461 Sergeant N. Doherty who was buried at Cambridge.

    England. 1943-12-16. The bearer party lowering the coffin into the grave at the funeral service for 419461 Sergeant N. Doherty who was buried at Cambridge.

    England. 1943-12-16. The bearer party lowering the coffin into the grave at the funeral service for 419461 Sergeant N. Doherty who was buried at Cambridge.

    England. 1943-12-16. A prayer is offered at the graveside service for 419461 Sergeant N. Doherty who was buried at Cambridge.

    England. 1943-12-16. A prayer is offered at the graveside service for 419461 Sergeant N. Doherty who was buried at Cambridge.
     
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  14. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

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  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Re member

    This the same man??

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: Arthur Merridew
    Birth Date: abt 1920
    Date of Registration: Dec 1943
    Age at Death: 23
    Registration district: Fakenham
    Inferred County: Norfolk
    Volume: 4b
    Page: 340

    TD
     
  16. RCG

    RCG Senior Member

    Yes TD its him, All the deaths were registered at Fakenham.
    Thanks DaveB, believe that similar photos are available for the Canadians.
    No doubt that there are the same for the others, but as they are Brits then their history has to be hidden.
     
  17. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    Many thanks RCG for all that otherwise forgotten history and your wonderful display.
    Lets hope that a permanent memorial can be erected by remembrance day 2017.
     
  18. RCG

    RCG Senior Member

    All that is left of BK440

    [​IMG]


    These pieces were excavated from the Site in 1985, by The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

    Now on display at their Flixton Museum. FREE ENTRY. http://www.aviationmuseum.net/


    Another little story that I unearthed.
    It appears that the Park farm manager Mr Charles Tosh (weighing about 17stone) and the Village Policeman Mr Arthur William Berry were at the crash site, when Mr Tosh wanted them to go into an adjoining field to check that all the cattle were unhurt. Now instead of walking around to the gate he decided to jump over the fence unfortunately his foot caught the top wire and he fell into the ditch and lost consciousness and PC Berry somehow managed to get him back to Park Farm where he recovered.
    Source Mr E G Wakefield who worked for the Seaman’s at Church farm.
     
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  19. RCG

    RCG Senior Member

    When I first read the accident report these three references to North Elmham gave me cause for thought.

    The aircraft was then sound plotted by the R.O.C. post at N Elmham proceeding in a north-Easterly direction at an estimated height of 1,000 ft. Shortly after it had gone out of earshot there was a tremendous flash and the sound of the impact was heard.

    Cloud 10/10ths with base at about 2,000 ft extending up to 8,000 ft. Visibility below cloud 12 miles. In the cloud there was high icing index and freezing level was given as 2,000ft. Wind N.N.E. 6 M.P.H. Bright moonlight outside cloud. It was observed by the R.O.C. witness at N. Elmham that a heavy hailstorm occurred two minutes after the accident.

    The R.O.C. 1,000 ft plot of the aircraft just prior to the crash was by sound only and is considered unreliable.

    As I know that N Elmham is approx 7 mls from Fakenham and 6 mls from the crash site to me this was just a little to far away, the ROC Observers as far as I know were pretty accurate in their findings and with the hailstorm approaching would they have been able to see the tremendous flash and hear the sound of the impact?
    As I know the ROC posts were never where they were named after, so with a little more searching I found it only 1.7 mls from the crash site.

    [​IMG]

    So were the ROC reports more accurate then the RAF gave them credit for, I myself think so.
    Now the base of the cloud was 2000ft and the top of the cloud 8000ft and they had been flying at 8000ft. Did they drop down out of the cloud to check their position before making their turn towards Stowmarket, again I think so, any slight wind drift or speed change during the time from Sutton bridge to Fakenham could have put them over the top of RAF Little Snoring and if they had turned without checking the exact position they could have easily flown over the top of RAF Foulsham and be mistaken for an intruder. Once they had established their position climbed up through the cloud and met the hailstorm head on, resulting in the crash.
     
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  20. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    I was reading Martin's file again.

    Does this add anything to your investigation?

    Regards,

    Dave
     

    Attached Files:

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