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Thread: 6 Group Bomber Command - Commemoration of Loss

  1. #11
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    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    This is by way of a further progress report on the accident involving a Lancaster and a Halifax of 428 and 426 sqns respectively.

    I now have short biographies and photographs for all the RCAF personnel and a crew photograph for the Halifax, which adds the RAFVR flight engineer.

    I have also been given a copy of the Board of Enquiry and this provides me with detailed information regarding the accident, including photographs of the crash sites. It also debunks one or two things which were "received wisdom" in the village. Something of a shock to me is that I walk my dogs close to where the Halifax struck the ground, as that was not the location I had been told.

    Some information received actually poses further questions. For example, most of the Halifax crew were recovered in a close group about two hundred yards from the crash, the wreckage of which suggests an almost vertical dive. The rear gunner of the Lancaster was found in a field nearly five miles away and the mid upper turret and gunner were some distance from the aircraft and were the only two whose remains could be identified subsequently, although there are several sets of remains which are buried at Brookwood as 'an airman of the Second War' with a date and these are known to have been recovered from the site.

    I have written to the CO of 426 Sqn at Trenton and will pursue some of the other guidance and ideas given me in this Thread. However, it is the local history group who want to commemorate this loss and - to put it politely - they need to get their act together!!

    So, thank you all for your interest and contributions to this topic. I know that somewhere in Canada is a family who visited this village about twenty years ago. They asked the village postmaster about the crash and he referred them to me - the chap who lives in the house at the top of the hill! Unfortunately, I was away in the RAF and so never met these people and the post master didn't take their names; pity that.

    Thank you again, I'll report any further progress.

    Colin Cummings

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    Default Lancaster KB768 Crash Report

    Not quite sure how this works. If I'm looking for the crash report on Lancaster KB768 (5/6 Dec 1944) which reel should I check?
    Last edited by Jagan; 12th April 2020 at 16:13. Reason: Post moved to own thread in Gen Cat Forum

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    Default F/o s.w. Pechet

    We would like to thank everyone for remembering this terrible accident. F/O Samuel William Pechet was not married and had no children but he has neices and nephews in Canada and the U.S. At 30-years-old, he was the old man of the crew, the others being barely 20-years-old. One of Sam's brothers kept his medals safe and we cherish them now, however there is no trace of the Memorial Cross that would have been sent to his mother, Sophie.

    I have been unable to trace the Board of Enquiry report and would be glad of advice on how to access it. Hoped to visit the site this year but alas COVID-19 has dashed all hopes of that for now.

    We Remember You, Sam.

    - Mary-Anne Pechet


    Quote Originally Posted by Oldduffer View Post
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    This is by way of a further progress report on the accident involving a Lancaster and a Halifax of 428 and 426 sqns respectively.

    I now have short biographies and photographs for all the RCAF personnel and a crew photograph for the Halifax, which adds the RAFVR flight engineer.

    I have also been given a copy of the Board of Enquiry and this provides me with detailed information regarding the accident, including photographs of the crash sites. It also debunks one or two things which were "received wisdom" in the village. Something of a shock to me is that I walk my dogs close to where the Halifax struck the ground, as that was not the location I had been told.

    Some information received actually poses further questions. For example, most of the Halifax crew were recovered in a close group about two hundred yards from the crash, the wreckage of which suggests an almost vertical dive. The rear gunner of the Lancaster was found in a field nearly five miles away and the mid upper turret and gunner were some distance from the aircraft and were the only two whose remains could be identified subsequently, although there are several sets of remains which are buried at Brookwood as 'an airman of the Second War' with a date and these are known to have been recovered from the site.

    I have written to the CO of 426 Sqn at Trenton and will pursue some of the other guidance and ideas given me in this Thread. However, it is the local history group who want to commemorate this loss and - to put it politely - they need to get their act together!!

    So, thank you all for your interest and contributions to this topic. I know that somewhere in Canada is a family who visited this village about twenty years ago. They asked the village postmaster about the crash and he referred them to me - the chap who lives in the house at the top of the hill! Unfortunately, I was away in the RAF and so never met these people and the post master didn't take their names; pity that.

    Thank you again, I'll report any further progress.

    Colin Cummings

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    Colin,

    Check your email.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Mary-Anne Pechet,

    It's been several years since the accident was commemorated formally in the village of Yelvertoft and in the presence of the Canadian Air Attache and quite a gathering of local people. As part of the ceremony, two trees - Canadian Maples - were planted in a site close to the canal where the Lancaster came down. When I last walked that way the trees were doing fine.

    For about the last twenty years the names of the crew members are read out at the village war memorial on Remembrance Sunday, along with the names of villagers who lost their lives in the two world wars. The twelve Canadians first and then the two RAF flight engineers. It is sad to record that although full details of one of the F/Es was discovered, I have not been able to trace any information about the family of Sgt Collingwood, the other. I have asked in newspapers near his home town and organisations such as the local library and various clubs and groups but there seems to be no trace of anybody who might have known him or his family. I have not sought his Record of Service, as his parents will be long gone and there would be no record of other family members anyway. Perhaps he was an orphan or estranged from his family.

    I received some information recently, including contact with a member of the other pilot's family. The enquiry was a somewhat limited affair because there were accidents by the dozen, everyday of the week. The supposed cause was that the collision took place as one or other aircraft rejoined the bomber stream, possibly after carrying out a circuit to use up time. I cannot say why there were no abandonments but it seems probable that the aircraft might have been locked together, given that they crashed within about a mile of each other, having fallen about three miles.

    Colin Cummings

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldduffer View Post
    ...I received some information recently, including contact with a member of the other pilot's family. The enquiry was a somewhat limited affair because there were accidents by the dozen, everyday of the week. The supposed cause was that the collision took place as one or other aircraft rejoined the bomber stream, possibly after carrying out a circuit to use up time. I cannot say why there were no abandonments but it seems probable that the aircraft might have been locked together, given that they crashed within about a mile of each other, having fallen about three miles.

    Colin Cummings
    IF one of the aircraft was performing a circuit to loose time, it is surprising, although not impossible. In his audio memoir, my father reviews this manoeuvre and he described it as highly dangerous and he refused to do it when his navigator suggested he do so. They ended up bombing 6 minutes early on that raid. In his book, A Thousand Shall Fall, Murray Peden discusses this manoeuvre and likewise considered it highly dangerous. Also one of the aircraft may have been climbing to the required height. My father was on this operation that night. The target was Soest. The Bomber Command night raid reports record good weather over England that night. On raids earlier in the week dad recorded that weather was poor, but did not comment on the weather in his logbook that night.

    Jim

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    Peden on Page 269-270 of “A Thousand Shall Fall”:

    “...On the Bremen operation, we very nearly killed ourselves again, but this time it was not as a result of forgetting to execute some detail of our orders, but rather from conscientiously implementing a stupid one. At our second turning point, just off the West Frisians, Sam reported we were exactly one minute early and requested that we apply the curative nostrum specified by a series of navigation instructors who had not flown in Main Force operations in recent months: one orbit to use up 60 seconds. I complied unthinkingly, having heard this remedy off-handedly prescribed by navigation leaders. When I had turned some 90 degrees, a black shape hurtled past on the original course, almost invisible in the darkness. Simultaneously, I became aware of other indistinct masses flashing past at lethally close range, above, below, level. Chilling thoughts crossed my mind as I realized what I should have thought of before attempting this suicidally stupid manoeuvre: true we were a minute ahead of ETA at the turning point but so were a sizeable portion of the 118 other aircraft who were in our wave and using the same met winds and who would be adhering to our own at this point with Gee still serviceable...”

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    Colin,

    I look forward to seeing those maple trees one day!

    Too bad about the lack of information on Sgt Collingwood. Next time I pay to search the British Newspaper Archive, I'll see if I can find anything more, perhaps an obituary.

    Not too surprising that the investgation was limited, especially since there was so little left to look at. The circuit manoeuvre sounds pretty dodgy, given how tightly they used to fly

    Mary-Anne Pechet

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    I agree with the comments regarding leaving and rejoining the stream but that's what the findings say.

    I recall hearing an account of a pilot whose rear gunner was on his second tour. At the R/Gs suggestion the aircraft was always flown above the stream as it was thought to be less likely that they would be attacked by enemy fighters. I never did get an explanation of what they did at the bomb release point!!!

    Colin Cummings

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    So I am curious, what COULD a crew do if they were ahead of schedule and wanted to be both safe and diligent....? Doglegs, or slowing airspeed perhaps...?
    Cheers, clint

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