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Thread: Albert Mercer (navigator) based at Syerston WWII

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    Default Albert Mercer (navigator) based at Syerston WWII

    Can anyone furnish me with information about Albert Mercer;he was a navigator based at RAF Syerston and was killed in an accident near Hoveringham, Nottinghamshire, during the war.

    His sister is going to give me the date of the accident, but maybe someone has access to records that could shed light on what plane he was in in the meantime; accident records, etc.

    His sister seems to think that the rest of the crew were Canadians, which makes me wonder if he was in a Hampden that apparently crashed near Hoveringham.

    Any info at all would be gratefully received by us and also by his family, who were saddened not to find a memorial to the accident here.

  2. #2
    Eddie Fell Guest

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    Hi Helen

    It looks like your man could have been the Flight Engineer on Lancaster III LM308 from 5 Lancaster Finishing School which crashed at Syerston on 29/1/45. Five of the seven on board were RCAF

    Hope this helps

    Cheers

    Eddie

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    Only one Albert Mercer on the CWGC

    Name: MERCER, ALBERT
    Initials: A
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Sergeant (Flt. Engr.)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Age: 23
    Date of Death: 29/01/1945
    Service No: 2218573
    Additional information: Son of John and Margaret Mercer, of Southport.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. 28. Grave 961.
    Cemetery: SOUTHPORT (DUKE STREET) CEMETERY

    EDIT: Eddie beat me to it :)

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    Default Albert Mercer

    Amrit and Eddie - thank you both! I am so grateful to you for the information.

    How do I find out more about where that Lancaster came down? We seem to have had three bombers crash on our side of the river Trent from RAF Syerston. We think we may have identified the crash scene for one Lancaster which had mostly New Zealand crew on board, but have no idea where Lancaster LM308 came down.

  5. #5
    Eddie Fell Guest

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    Hi Helen

    Vol. 8 of Bomber Command Losses states

    Took of Syerston for a cross country sortie. Returned to base and acknowledged the landing instructions from Flying Control. Two minutes later at 02.16hrs, the Lancaster crashed, at high speed exploding on impact. Eyewitnesses say the aircraft was on fire in the air..

    It sounds therefore that they were fairly close to the airfield. However, the Service Record of the Pilot may indicate the exact location.

    He was W/O2 Richard Barlow Rathbone - Service No. R168095 RCAF

    You can obtain a copy by sending the form at

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/022/f2/022-909.007-e.pdf

    to the address shown.
    If you order the Geneology package it comes without charge but could take upto 3 months

    Cheers

    Eddie

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    Hi Helen
    The difficulty with this one is that Chorley's book on the losses is not very precise. He indicates that the a/c was returning from a night training flight and had acknowledged the instructions from Flying Control(the forerunner of Air Traffic Control) and then crashed at high speed. By implication it was on the airfield but that would be pure guesswork.I see from http://www.content-delivery.co.uk/aviation/airfields/Syerston.html, that Hoveringham is on one of the approaches to the longest runway and I assume that what seems to be a lake wasn't there during the war but it would depend on the runway in use at the time as to where the a/c impacted. It is suggested that eyewitnesses reported that it was on fire in the air.. We will have to hope that the Unit Operational Record Book, which could be in the National Archive at Kew will have more detail
    Regards
    Dick

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    Default Albert Mercer

    Dick and Eddie, many thanks.

    The lake at Hoveringham used to be fields & hedges until the sailing club was formed (Trinity College having extracted the gravel first). From what you have found, it does sound as though Lancaster LM308 possibly came down nearer the airfield.

    The description of where the first Lancaster came down (III JB125 on 12 Jan 1945) was so accurate that I think unless two Lancasters somehow crashed within a few hundred yards of each other, within 3 weeks of each other, the crash on our boundary was JB125.

    How on earth do I access the Unit Operation Record Book at Kew?!

    So grateful for your help.
    Helen

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    Allison & Hayward's "They Shall Grow Not Old" entry on Rathbone says "LM 308 were on a night training flight when they crashed near the Elm Tree Hotel, Hoveringham, Nottinghamshire"
    Dave Wallace
    Last edited by David Wallace; 10th January 2009 at 00:33.

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    Helen and David
    Look at http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3937 a previous thread of Helen's and you will see how close we could be to mingling separate incidents. It is not impossible that they came down in the same place as the village is directly under the approach to Syerston's longer runway, but from Helen's earlier thread it doesn't seem that "village memory" has 2 crashes in the same location
    If Helen finds any more metal in her field(which started her off) it might be an idea to see if there are any markings stamped or riveted on to it that could give a clue to an expert as to what part of the aircraft it came from and, with luck, even the actual aircraft if the maintenance records have been preserved.
    For Helen. Unit Operational Books(ORB) are held at Kew and can be accessed online in many cases although I think there is a Fee for downloading the images. The Unit was 5 Lancaster Finishing School which finally closed down in Apr '45. If the right persons read this they may already have copies of the ORB and be willing to share the knowledge. There should be an ORB for Syerston which may record the incidents.
    Given the large numbers of Bases in Notts., Lincolnshire, Yorks, etc it might be an idea to see if there is a local Aviation Archaeology Group that could have collected data on accidents and crashes in your area
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 10th January 2009 at 11:35.

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    Default Lancaster crash, Hoveringham

    Dick and David,

    Thank you; the eyewitnesses both describe the crash they saw being in the same place. I can't believe two Lancasters came down in the same spot. However, the two people can only remember that it was 1945, they might be describing two incidents for all we know.

    If I find any more bits of 'plane with serial numbers I will let you know; the entire tract of riverbank (indeed the entire approach route to one of the runways) is over our land, ie: from The Elm Tree hotel to within 100 - 150 yards of the actual site of the plane wreck (which is just under the surface of the sailing lake at Hoveringham and belongs to Trinity College anyway).

    Helen

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