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Thread: WWII: WAAF Lost On Operational Sortie

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    Default WWII: WAAF Lost On Operational Sortie

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    In his book: “Missing Believed Killed”, Stuart Hadaway cites Flt Lt R St Vincent as saying that during the recovery and clearance of a wartime operational aircraft crash, it was discovered that a WAAF was present with the crew and her identity was confirmed by her ID discs.

    The aircraft was being examined at S-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands and it is assumed, therefore, that the crew and the female ‘stowaway’ will have been reburied at somewhere like Jonkerbos.

    The female must have been discovered to be missing from her base and one assumes it quickly became apparent that she had not merely gone AWOL.

    The timescale for this loss is not indicated and there are no pointers to aircraft type or unit. I have not searched Chorley.

    Can anyone throw any light on this incident, please?

    Colin Cummings

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    I have several times over the years heard the tale of the WAAF smuggled on board an aircraft which subsequently failed to return.
    With the large number of persons involved in RAF research over the last few years it seems odd that no firm details of this loss have come light. Surely the CWGC would have a record.
    Certainly WAAFs were lost in air crashes, could the story have grown out of one of those incidents?
    I'm cynical but it would be a most interesting story if it is true.
    Ian Macdonald

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    Default WWII-WAAF-Lost-On-Operational-Sortie

    Hello,
    There was an American Nurse that became the only woman POW that went down with the C47 she was in in post D-Day 44. Story was on the armyairforces.com website.
    Then there was the A/c, a Stirling I think that crashed in the Middle East or was it Italy that had almost all service women passengers that were all killed.
    And also the wife (English WAAF ) who was killed when the Czech a/c crashed, her husband (Czech) was a member of the crew.
    Colin Cumings books give details on the Stirling and Czech a/c IIRC.
    All for now
    Alex

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    Alex,

    Indeed, Cummings (note the spelling!!!!!!!!!) does give details of several losses involving WAAFs as you note above. The aircraft which was full of ATS and Army nurses crashed off Corsica in late 1945 but these were being flown back to Italy and were 'authorised' passengers. There is also a WAAF lost off the east coast in 1946 when on an authorised flight and two females who were killed whilst flying air evacuation Dakotas to France and return and these ladies are also noted in one of his tomes.

    Incidentally, the family of the Czech girl, who was flying home with her husband and who had been smuggled on a Liberator which crashed near Blackbushe, have been active on this site about a year ago, IIRC.

    I agree with Ian's view that it is probably a version of the: 'going to advance send up reinforcements - which becomes - going to a dance send up three and fourpence'. With all the research that has been done and the plethora of information now available in the public domain, I would have thought the story would have emerged by now if true.

    Thank you for your comments and views - it would certainly be a very interesting story, if true.

    Colin Cummings

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    The WAAF stowaway mentioned above was LACW 1 Edita Sedlakova who was flying to Prague to meet her brother to assist in the recovery of their family glass business that was sequestrated by the German occupation and subsequently The Soviet Union. The Liberator was scheduled to take off on 4th October 1945 carrying 23 Czech refugees returning home included in the passenger manifest were W.O. Pavel Svoboda, Air Gunner and LACW 1 Edita Sedlakova, ground Wireless Operator both from 311 Squadron. Three attempts to take off were aborted due to an engine problem and the aircraft was returned to the hanger for attention.

    The flight was rescheduled for 5th October 1945 but it was discovered that the names of Pavel Svoboda and Edita Sedlakova had been removed from the manifest and two civilians names added. Somehow, whether assisted by her husband, crew member Flt. Engr. Zdenek Sedlak we will never know but Edita managed to board. Whether she intended to return, again we shall never know, but I have a copy of a Discharge Certificate quoting her date of discharge as “14th November 1945 – Services no longer required – at own request” so technically she was still a serving WAAF when she died and possibly on pre-release leave. I presented her case for recognition as a War Casualty to CWGC in July which was submitted to the MOD and am still awaiting their decision.

    Tony

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    Hi,

    I seem to remember an account of a WAAF id discs being found in a crashed RAF bomber in Germany. It seems a WAAF had given the disc to her boyfriend an air gunner as a good luck charm.

    So when he went missing, and the disc was found at the crash site all hell broke losse.

    Mark

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    Mark,

    Hadaway makes reference to the exchange of ID discs between WAAFs and their boyfriends, as tokens of affection/commitment and this causing problems when the discs were found in the wreckage, before quoting the incident of a WAAF actually being on board an aircraft during a real operation.

    There are several known cases of dogs being found in the wreckage and in at least one case this allowed the crew to be identified.

    During the Normandy invasion, a glider crashed with the loss of all on board and this included 'Glenn' a war dog who was being flown in with his handler. I don't know whether the dog is actually mentioned on the CWGC headstones (it's a Collective Grave) but he was certainly buried with the others.

    In more recent times, an 'explosives search dog' and his handler were killed in Northern Ireland and the soldier's family asked specifically for the dog to buried with their son. Earlier this year, when a soldier was killed in a blast in Afghanistan and his dog died later, the dog was cremated and its ashes brought back to UK.

    In a somewhat bizarre situation, several married couples were aboard a Stirling Mk V which crashed near Rennes. Although they are all buried in the same cemetery, the couples are not necessarily in adjacent graves and I have been unable to find out why.

    Colin Cummings

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