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Thread: 156Squadron - crash Wellington bomber - 02/03 June 1942 - Brussegem (Belgium)

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    Default 156Squadron - crash Wellington bomber - 02/03 June 1942 - Brussegem (Belgium)


    First : my name is Jan Willems. I am 65 years young and Belgian. My native language is Flemish, so you may read some (big) language errors in my topic (sorry for that).

    On June 02, 1942 at 23:38 p.m. twelve aircrafts took off at the airport of Alconbury for a bombing mission in Essen (Germany) as a part of one of the 1.000 Bomber Raids.
    One of them was a Vickers Wellington aircraft, type IC, with serial DVF786 and code GT.
    The five crew members, all belonging to the 156 RAF Squadron, were : Thomas James Kehoe, Thomas Cudworth, Ernest Chadwick, Patrick David Powell and Leonard Johnson.
    Unfortunately, about two hours after their departure in Alconbury, the aircraft has been shot by a German night fighter ( a Messerschmitt Bf 110) and the heavy burning Wellington-bomber crashed in the fields of my hometown Brussegem, about 15 km N.W. from Brussels. All five died right away.
    The German night fighter (pilot) was Eckart-Wilhelm von Bonin, member of the 'Deutsche Luftwaffe'.

    During my research that started in January 2016, I have contacted several Belgian, German and (above all) British websites, forums, newspapers ('letters for readers'), R.A.F. associated links, genealogy sites, city councils and archive departments.
    Due to my 'never giving up' searches (and the help of two British friends) I succeeded in collecting the following data (in brief) about the five fallen British young men :

    Patrick David Powell : his 1177614. After attending the training camp of Cardington, he became (he was) the pilot of the Wellington.

    Ernest Chadwick : his 1006926. He was the observer/navigator. He was 25 years, the son of Ernest Chadwick and Ellen Birch, who married in 1914 in West Derby (Liverpool).

    Thomas Cudworth : his 1063702. He joined the R.A.F. in August 1940 and went to the RAF-training camp 'Padgate' near Blackpool, Lancastershire. Before he joined the Air Force he was employed by the Oldham Cooperative Society. He was the wireless operator/gunner of barely 21 years. His parents (Thomas Cudworth and Katie Watts both) worked in one of the cotton mills in Oldham. His parents died when he was just a baby and he has grown up under the custodial care of his uncle James Watts and his wife Alice who lived at the Benson Street 3 in Oldham, Lancashire. I succeeded in retrieving two short messages with a photograph of Thomas Cudworth in the local newspaper 'the Oldham Chronicle' of the 20th June 1942 and the 3rd October 1942, reporting the missing and the death of Thomas.

    Leonard Johnson : his 1029425. He was 'gunner'.

    Thomas James Kehoe : his 1112884. He was 22 years. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Kehoe who lived in Fazarkeley, Liverpool.

    What am I still looking for ????

    In the first place I am still looking for living descendants of these five young men, people who can forward me some interesting info about their great-uncle.
    And in the second place I am still looking for some extra personal and military info of these five young RAF-sergeants that (maybe) can be found in (local) archive departments.

    I realize that my further search for retrieving more personal and military details becomes/will become more and more difficult after day, week after week.
    This 'bad feeling' has grown since I have noticed that even the "RAF - Disclosures Department" is unwilling (or is unable) to forward personal details of their own brave airmen because, following RAF- and British privacy-rules, I can not get any information as long as I do not have a permission of one of these guys’ living descendants ... Bur for God's sake ... I cannot find any living descendant ....

    Therefore, I would like to ask :
    • whether someone can find some additional information about these fallen guys, based on the 'new' information I collected myself, related to the crash and the fallen RAF-airmen (see above) ...
    • whether someone can help me to find living descendants of these fallen guys ... because you British probably know, better than I do, which channels or sources are available in Great-Britain to find these living descendants)
    • whether someone can inform me through which (British) channels I can find some more information : e.g. how can I get into the archives of the mentioned (former ?) training camps ? ... are there any local "war related" archives of Liverpool, Oldham, Anfield, Fazarkeley, ... that are open for public ? ... are there in each town/village any (local) associations that deal with local yearly war memorial ceremonies ??? (in Belgium for instance, all the names of the soldiers who have died in the war and who lived in the village, are mentioned on the front wall of the town hall ... and every year on the yearly memorial ceremony of the 11th of November, their names are called) ??? ...
    For me, it is very strange that, I cannot get any information about these RAF-guys although I have their names, their squadron number, even their personal RAF-identification number ...

    It is still my aim that, finally 75 years after the crash, these brave young RAF-airmen, will be honoured next year by our local authorities, by erecting a memorial stone on the place where their aircraft crashed. A yearly (or two-yearly) memorial ceremony will be organized, and I, myself – being historian - will publish and dedicate a book to these five fallen guys. A book that will be distributed in the local schools and libraries and will be sold to the local inhabitants (the eventual revenue will be used for the erection costs of the memorial stone and the costs of the ceremony).

    Every little help in respect to my further research is welcome.
    Thanks in advance.

    Last edited by Jan Willems; 2nd November 2016 at 17:56.

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