View Full Version : 430320 - Unaccounted airwomen and airmen - 20-3-1943

Henk Welting
2nd April 2010, 15:42
What were the places of death registration for:

A - Not found Flight Global:
F/Sgt (Pilot) Harold CLARK - 1023954.

B - Died on active service:
LACW Marjorie A. COLLIN - 892026 - 168 Sqn (Odiham, Hampshire);
AC1 Victor DRINNAN - 1129773;
Cpl Fred W. LONG - 917192 - age 43, and
Cpl (WAAF) Doris E. SMITH - 421110.

C - Killed on active service:
LAC Frank E. HUGHES - 1394561;
LAC (Pilot [u/t ?]) John G. STONEHAM - 1396881, and
F/O (Pilot) Albert E. WHEELER - DFC - 50363.

D - Proposed aircraft losses:
Beaufighter I - V8379 - 51 OTU - crashed on landing Cranfield.
Beaufighter VI - X8004 - TFU - overshot landing at Defford.
Oxford I - DF477 - RAFC - hit balloon barrage Mottrams Farm, Ash Bank, Crewe, Cheshire.

Regards and thanks for your help.

4th April 2010, 09:05
Hi Henk,

you can exlude Beaufighter VI - X8004 from possible list:

20/03/1943 Beaufighter X8004 of 406 Squadron swung on landing and the undercarriage collapsed at Defford. Pilot Sgt R B Robertson and civilian scientist Mr Willson were both




4th April 2010, 10:40
Wheeler, Stoneham, Hughes and Clark all at Crewe.
Nothing on Long in Eng/Wales or Scottish register.

5th April 2010, 00:15
I missed this one when you first posted,

I have an entry from the CNS ORB (at Cranage a few miles away from Crewe).

March 20th 1943, Medical Section, “15:30 Hrs approx, In the course of this afternoon , two aircraft, one a Wellington from Lichfield and one an Oxford from Cranwell, crashed after hitting balloon cables at Crewe. All the occupants 8 from the Wellington and 4 from the Oxford, were killed. The bodies were transferred to this station on 21/3/43 and burial arrangements carried out from here.”

Henk Welting
5th April 2010, 09:54
Thanks Al, Alan & Pavel.
Alan: What about WAAF Cpl Doris SMITH ?
Pavel: Info on surviving crew also very welcome (collect info on all allied [except USAAF] aircraft losses 39-47).
Best regards,

10th April 2010, 18:51
Hi Henk

Just back from holiday in Northumberland so trying to catch up on the week's postings.

Doris Smith registered in West Cheshire.


Henk Welting
11th April 2010, 13:05
Thanks Malcolm,, welcome back on the forum; do hope you enjoyed your holidays.

28th May 2010, 22:11
I am the grand-daughter of F/O Pilot Albert E Wheeler and I have been trying for some years to find out how my grandfather died with no success, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across this web site.

Can you please advise how I can get a copy of the CNS ORB you mentioned on 4th April 2010.

In addition I have been trying to find out why he was awarded the DFC and again with no success. I requested his records from the RAF but his records just acknowledge the DFC but give no details.

What is the purpose of your research, apologies if you have explained this somewhere else.


28th May 2010, 22:26
Hi Helen,

His DFC was gazetted in the London gazette 25th July 1941 when he was a Warrant Officer (service number 590017) with No.210 Sqn.

The squadron ORB (war diary) is open to personal inspection at The National Arcives, Kew. I'll dig out my copy this afternoon and see if I can find a suitable event.

Had he been posted to No.502 Sqn at St Eval when he was made a P/O in Oct 1942?. If so then I can give some details of a crash that he survived.


Henk Welting
29th May 2010, 13:00
I'm a retired Chief Warrant Officer of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, age 76, and an amateur historian on the air war 1939-1945. Doing research on allied aircraft losses (except USAAF) and crew.
I've on file that WHEELER was flying Oxford serial DF477 of RAF College Cranwell when he hit a balloon barrage and crashed Mottrams Farm, Ash Bank, Crewe, Cheshire.
Also killed aboard the Oxford:
Sgt Harold CLARK - 1023954, LAC John G. STONEHAM - 1396881 and LAC Frank E. HUGHES - 1394561.

29th May 2010, 15:42
Hi Helen,

Well I had a look at the ORB for 1941 and W/O Wheeler was flying Sunderlands as second pilot then first pilot in the squadron.

He appears every few days or so in the operational logs. Need to be a bit careful not to mix him up as the squadron also had a P/O Wheeler flying as pilot as well.

On 15th April W/O Wheeler was first pilot on a transit flight of Catalina Oban to Stranraer as the squadron converted onto that type.

He continues on the Catalina operations as first pilot.

1st May Catalina AH533, sighted lifeboat with survivors and dropped food.

He now starts to fly with the USN Ensigns who carried out operational flights with the squadron (7 months before the USA declared war on Germany).

20th May 1941 he was detached with a single aircraft to Sullom Voe.

This was the start of the hunt for Bismark.

25th May 1941 detached to Iceland to operate from there.

28th May returned to Oban

1st June detached to Sullom Voe

1st July returned to Oban from Loch Boisdale

20th July 1941.
Sullom Voe 23:25 hrs Catalina W8418, W/O Wheeler and W/O Williams left on transit flight to Archangel (Russia) with special passengers.

21st July 1941.
Archangel, waterbourne 14:58 hrs

22nd July 1941.
17:47 hrs Catalina W8418 W/O Wheeler DFC left to return to Invergordon

So looks like an immediate award of DFC for this trip.

23rd July 1941
11:13 waterbourne, Invergordon

He continues operational flying from Oban

14th August left for temporary detachment at Mount Batten

18th August 1941
Lough Erne
Took off in Catalina AH535 at 19:11
07:45 on 19th attacked U-Boat in position PHAG 1614 from 50 feet with 2 x 450lb depth charges.

He is still flying operationally with the squadron in Dec 1941 but then disappears from the operational flight logs.

I'll try the No.502 Sqn ORB for Jan 1942 to see if he appears there.


31st May 2010, 10:41
Thank you for emailing the ORB for 1941, it was really interesting and as you can imagine we are very curious to whom the special passengers were on the Flight to Archangel on the 20/22 July 1941.

I'm aware that at the time Churchill was in discussion with Stalin due to Germany invading Russia a month earlier.

With regards to my grandfather’s Sqn from Jan 1942, the records are not very clear
I think from the 1/1/42 he joined the 4 OTU but under the "Dep Cas Form" Column it has CPL.

He then moves a couple of times until 17.6.42 (Nuts Corner & Aldergrove) but the records do not record a Sqn no. but instead he has "CPL" and various number references in the "Dep Cas Form" column.

Then in 17.6.42 he is then recorded at Cranwell College until 14/10/42, when he is discharged.

On the 15.10.42 it was recorded on his medical records he was fit for General Duties Branch and the London Gazette records his transfer to General Duties Branch on the 15.10.43.

I'm not sure what the reason was for the transferring to General Duties in October?

Can you send me the info on the crash in Oct 1942 as I'm wondering if that has something to do with his transfer?

Where did you get your copies of the ORB from?

Thank you confirming the cause of death of my grandfather, out of interest what do you intend using the information for?

Kindest regards


31st May 2010, 11:13
Hi Helen

He was obviously commissioned on 15 Oct 1942, hence why he was discahrged as an airman on 14 Oct 1942. The Generral Duties Branch is thre main officer Branch of the RAF containing all aircrew. At that time officers commissioned from the ranks were given a different service number and the record forms used to record their careers were totally different.


31st May 2010, 12:24

My records seem to be bit of both, I'm assuming parts have been lost over time.

What was the general reason for transferring to General Duties apologies for labouring the point but I don't understand what type of unit/organisation it was, other than it is part of the RAF?


31st May 2010, 15:38
Hello Helen,

Actually he was already in the General Duties Branch when he was a N.C.O. pilot. So to say, the transfer was not really from the GD branch to the same branch, but a discharge from the ranks/NCO on 14th October, and a commission with the rank of Pilot Officer on the day after. But he was still in the GD branch, which, amongst others, cover the flying personnel, as Malcolm explained.


1st June 2010, 10:39

I now understand what you mean in relation to General Duties.

I notice you guys seem to have access to the ORBs is there a way of reviewing them electronically or do I need to go to Kew?


1st March 2018, 12:30

LACW Marjorie A. COLLIN - 892026 - the National Probate Calendar records that she died at Base Hospital, Beverley.

Cpl (WAAF) Doris E. SMITH - 421110 - the Lancaster Guardian of March 26th 1943 reported the following:

Sympathy will be extended to L.A.C. Harold Smith, of the R.A.F., now serving in the Middle East, on the death at the early age of 24 of his wife, Mrs. Doris Smith, who was serving as a Corporal in the W.A.A.F. until she succumbed in hospital at Chester on Saturday to illness. The couple were only married in November of 1941 when both were serving their country. Mrs. Smith had been a member of the W.A.A.F. for two and a half years.



7th April 2020, 10:36
My father severed in the RAF in the middle east during the 2nd world war name Harold Smith No 646593, however the help I would like is not related directly to my father who passed away in 2000, it is related to his wife.

This request has a strange beginning related to the coronavirus, I rang my daughter and asked if all was ok and what she was doing with her two sons while school was closed, I was told WWII. I said I think I have some old ration cards etc, from the period which I would sort out. I took to looking through an old black box I kept after father death but one I had not really investigated, in looking through the papers I found that father had been married previously to a lady name Doris Eileen Smith (nee Ennew) No 421110 she had died on the 20th March 1943 of Tuberculosis.

This was something of a surprise to me as I had no idea that my father had ever been married before the marriage to my mother. This then found me wanting to know more about this lady and in searching the internet I came across the below record on your site at
It seemed strange that there should be someone else enquiring about this lady after all this time. Know nothing myself about this lady and wishing to know more, I wonder if you could but me in touch with Simon or the person that made a request about this lady.


Mal Smith.

7th April 2020, 11:49
Hello Mal

Welcome to the forum. It's amazing what you can find on the internet!

The full article on the Lancaster Guardian from March 26th 1943 has some further details:

Sympathy will be extended to L.A.C. Harold Smith, of the R.A.F., now serving in the Middle East, on the death at the early age of 24 of his wife, Mrs. Doris Smith, who was serving as a Corporal in the W.A.A.F. until she succumbed in hospital at Chester on Saturday to illness. The couple were only married in November of 1941 when both were serving their country. Mrs. Smith had been a member of the W.A.A.F. for two and a half years, and her husband, who was formerly employed at the Farmers' Butchers' shop in Common Garden Street, Lancaster, joined the R.A.F. in June 1939. Her husband is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Smith, of 100, Sibsey Street, Lancaster. The deceased was formerly Miss Doris Enneu [sic], of Brighton, where the funeral took place yesterday (Thursday).

Their marriage was also reported in the Lancaster Guardian of December 5th 1941, which includes a photo of the couple on their wedding day:

The wedding took place at the Priory and Parish Church, Lancaster, recently of Mr. Harold Smith, elder son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Smith, of Sibsey Street, Lancaster, and Miss Doris Irene [sic] Ennew, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. Ennew, of Cowfold Road, Brighton. The bride is at present serving with the W.A.A.F.. Given away by her father she wore a gown of white silk net over white satin, and decorated with orange blossom. She also wore a silk net veil held in place by a wreath of orange blossom, and a spray of carnations. She carried a silver horse shoe. The best man and grooms were brothers of the bridegroom, Messrs. Tom and James Smith respectively. Miss Morrison, a W.A.A.F. colleague of the bride, was the bridesmaid, and she wore her uniform with pink carnation spray.

I'd be happy to forward copies of both articles - just let me know.



7th April 2020, 14:36
Hi Simon.
Many thanks for the very quick and most welcome response, that gives me some more information about father life during the war period, I would vey much like to have copies of the articles if that was possible, I will send them to my grand children for they WWII project.
May I ask why on the 1st Mat 2018 there appears a post with reference to Mrs Doris Smith? Is there someone out there? may be a sister born later or some relative that maybe I could contact to get to know more about this lady. It seems odd that my father being from Lancaster and this lady from Brighton should have met other that somehow through the RAF.

I look forward to the articles and any contacts you may have for Doris Smith.

Best Regards

Mal Smith.

7th April 2020, 15:11
Hello Mal

This thread is part of the 'Unaccounted Airmen and Airwomen' database on here which was set up many years ago by the late Henk Welting to try to find the cause of death for those RAF personnel whose cause of death was up to that point unknown or obscure.

One of those was Corporal Doris E. Smith - see the original unaccounted list for this date on the first post of the thread:


Some casualties are easier to find now, due to more records being available online, or some members have specific areas of interest or expertise and are able to provide details.

I was lucky enough to find reference to Doris E. Smith in the newspaper archives on FindMyPast, which have proven very useful over the last few years since they were made available.

From ancestry.co.uk I know that Doris Ennew had a brother, Basil Frank Ennew, born in 1911 in Brighton and who died in 1975 in Shoeburyness. He was married and they had at least one child, born in 1935. No further details, unfortuately.

I'll download the two articles from the Lancaster Guardian and e-mail them over to you later today.



6th July 2021, 13:52
Marjorie Ada Collin 892026 , a cook , attached to 169 Squadron , died in RAF Beverley Base hospital of uraemia

6th July 2021, 13:55
Doris Eileen Smith 421110 , a cook , attached to 30 MU, admitted to the EMS hospital at Upton near Chester , on 13 March, died at 00:15 hours of tubercular meningitis

12th May 2022, 20:42
Victor Drinnan 1129733 , attached to RAF Valley , died in RAF Station hospital, West Kirby , of cerebro spinal meningitis

8th June 2023, 20:09
Fred William Long 917192 [ attached to RAF Yatesbury | died in the station hospital of acute heart faliure