Vickers Wellington IC sn DV697

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Jerome, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    This Wellington was purchased through the Trinidad Bomber Fund and was named "Sir George Huggins OBE". It was allocated to 14 OTU and crashed on 26 Sep 1943 at Husbands Bosworth, Leics., killing its crew. One crew member was PO F P Moorby. Can anyone help with info on the cause of the crash and crew details? Many thanks,
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    This is as close as I can get Jerome ... the "Big Boys" will be here soon .... but it's probably one of these I reckon !


    The odd Dakota dropping into Husbands Bosworth these days is an imposing sight, but picture a dozen of more doing a stream take-off wearing USAAF markings. Imagine a squadron of Lancasters taking off on the main runway, and gaggles of Wellingtons doing circuits and bumps all day long. When Market Harborough and its satellite, Husbands Bosworth opened for business in 1943 their combined aircraft strength was listed as 61 Wellington Mk.Ic's, 4 Martinets employed as target tugs, and an Avro Anson probably used as the station hack. Later Market Harborough was using Tomahawks for fighter affiliation work (dummy fighter attacks) and later still, Hawker Hurricanes. Apart from the occasional mention of special operations such as Bull's Eye, early infra-red night attacks, and the odd diverted flight, little comment is made in the Flying Records of the day-to-day flying at Husbands Bosworth. Mishaps pertaining to the station however, are well documented...

    As a training and type conversion unit Husbands Bosworth understandably suffered losses. Young men of 18 to 21 years of age were given control of large and heavy twin-engined aircraft and expected to fly in all weathers. The Wellington was an unforgiving aircraft at the best of times, with a marked propensity to put it's nose down and fly into the ground. Many Accident Reports cite pilot inexperience as contributory to the accident.

    Two aircraft accidents occurred whilst Husbands Bosworth station was still under construction. Aircraft were often sent out from R.A.F Castle Bromwich for practice sessions over the new anti-aircraft batteries, dummy dive bombing and strafing the site. A Miles Master on such a mission struck a tree whilst engaged in a low-level turn over the aerodrome and the Polish Forces pilot and his cadet passenger were killed. In another incident an Airspeed Oxford made a forced landing on the road near Nuneaton during its return from Husbands Bosworth killing all on board.

    Incidents concerning aircraft from the Unit:

    Wellington from Market Harborough suffered engine failure and crash-landed in a field to the south-east of Welford village. Aircraft caught fire but crew escaped.
    Wellington from Husbands Bosworth following a fighter affiliation and bombing exercise, attempted to make an over-shoot with wheels and flaps down. Port engine failed and the aircraft flew into the ground in a nose-down turn. Four crew killed; rear gunner escaped with severe burns.
    Wellington from Husbands Bosworth recalled from local bombing range flew into ground in the vicinity of Gumley village. All crew killed.
    Wellington landing at Husbands Bosworth overshot runway due to brake failure. No casualties; minor damage to aircraft.
    Wellington crashed on landing when starboard under-carriage collapsed.
    Wellington crashed on approach in dark, pilot having mis-interpreted approach lights.
    Aircraft from the station also had difficulties away from home:

    Wellington out of Husbands Bosworth made a successful single-engine landing at R.A.F. Saltby whilst under pupil-pilot control.
    During a night exercise, a Wellington from Husbands Bosworth dived into ground from a considerable altitude near Althorp Park. All crew killed.
    Whilst on a cross-country exercise from Husbands Bosworth a Wellington running low on fuel overshot the runway at ATA Whitchurch and became bogged. Aircraft damaged further whilst being extracted.
    Other accidents which occurred locally but not necessarily connected to Husbands Bosworth Aerodrome:

    Fairey Battle of 40 Squadron made forced landing on Naseby Reservoir. Crew rescued by rowing boat.
    Wellington of 305 (Polish) Squadron returning from a raid on Cologne crashed near Sibbertoft. All crew killed. [After removal from the wreckage the crew's bodies were placed in out-buildings at the Red Lion public house in Sibbertoft to await collection by the military.]
    Halifax of 4 Group crashed near Elkington due to propeller failure during a night flight. The only survivors, the air-bomber and the navigator were taken to Sick Quarters at Husbands Bosworth.
    Following a mid-air collision whilst out-bound on a bombing raid on Soest, a Lancaster and a Halifax crashed near Yelvertoft village. Much of the wreckage fell by the Grand Union Canal. Both crews died.
    Lancaster of 630 Squadron crashed near Foxton village whilst approaching Market Harborough.
    A B17 of 401st Bomb Group, Deenethorpe abandoned by crew after No.1 engine caught fire whilst out-bound on a raid on Germany on 4th March 1945. The vacated aircraft crashed near Moorbarns Farm, Bitteswell. The bomb load exploded causing damage to nearby farm buildings. [This aircraft was one of over 1000 USAAF B17 and B24 bombers from various bases across Britain bombing Germany on that night.]
    At 22.53hrs. on 22nd July 1944 92 Group informed Husbands Bosworth Flying Control that a V1 Flying Bomb was heading in their direction. At 22.57hrs. a message was received that the bomb had gone down in the village of Creaton. Severe damage was done to houses in the village but nobody was killed.
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    His family lived right there too ! ... wonder if they saw it ?

    In Memory of

    151848, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    who died
    on 26 September 1943
    Son of Henry Preston Moorby and Jessie Moorby, of Barton-under-Needwood; husband of Mary Kathleen Moorby.

    Remembered with honour
  4. CXX

    CXX New Member

    Hi Jerome,

    i've come up with the following, hope its a help........

    26 September 1943

    14 OTU
    Wellington IC DV697

    F/S. J W. Woods RAAF +
    Sgt. I W. Ferguson +
    Sgt. J M M . Fraser RAAF +
    P/O. F P. Moorby +

    Took off 1504 hrs Husbands Bosworth for a training detail. When the port engine developed a fault, the crew returned to base, approaching the runway from the downwind direction, realising his mistake, the pilot opened up to go round again but at 600 feet with the flaps and undercarriage fully extended, the bomber swung out of control and crashed at 1705 hrs, bursting into flames. Both Australians and Sgt. Ferguson lie in Oxford (Botley) Cemetery, while Sgt. Moorby is interred at Barton-under-Needwood (St.James) Churchyard in Staffordshire.

    BCL Vol.7 - W R. Chorley

  5. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    Thanks Annie & Peter. It looks like the 2nd incident mentioned in Annie's post - with the Rear Gunner escaping - I take it Chorley makes no mention of his name.
    I am thinking of doing up a display within our Museum (and my website) since this Wellington was the 1st purchased by Trinidad.

    Would be grateful for bio's on the crew - and photo's (Geoff help!)

    this is the photo of "Sir George Huggins OBE" [​IMG]
  6. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    I have the Aussies!

    View attachment 3679

    View attachment 3680
  7. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I'm not a member of RAFcommands - but somebody was looking for Frank Moorby a couple of years ago ! .... this was all I could get !! :)

  8. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    A book I am reading, Control in the Sky (L F E Coombs) has a passage that throws light on this. It also shows just how easy it was to become disorientated, and indicates one reason why the accident rate in wartime was so high.

  9. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

  10. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    Thanks everyone - Will follow up on the leads and report back with what I am able to find
  11. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    The Editor/Archivist of the Bosworth Bugle did a search of the station log for me and found this:
    "Sgt. Lewis escaped the burning aircraft but not before sustaining severe burns injuries"
    Unfortunately, no other info such as Initials etc. recorded. GSE threw up 22 RAAF and 224 RAF, and I found 2 "possibles", John Hedgley Lewis RAAF, 8 Nov 43, Chester (Blacon) and Kenneth Buckley Lewis RAF, 3 Feb 44 , Aspenden.
    Of course Sgt Lewis may well have survived his injuries & the war. But was he treated at the burns Unit?
    Kyt is still away, so does anyone else have any suggestions?
  12. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member

    I don't really know if I've got much to add - none of the casualty or personnel files for the two Aussies have been loaded up for viewing yet. What info is still being looked for??

    FRASER, James Munro Mearns - (Sergeant); Service Number - 419177 AUS

    WOODS, JACK WILLIAM – (Sergeant); Service Number – 410584 AUS

    FERGUSON, IAN WOODMAN – (Sergeant); Service Number – 1322786 RAF (Son of Mark H. G. Ferguson and Agnes Muriel Ferguson, of Swindon, Wiltshire)

    MOORBY, FRANK PRESTON – (Pilot Officer); Service Number – 151848 RAF (Son of Henry Preston Moorby and Jessie Moorby, of Barton-under-Needwood; husband of Mary Kathleen Moorby)

    All above KIA - 26 Sep 1943 (Casualty - Repatriation; Aircraft - Wellington DV 697; Place - Bosworth, England; Date - 25 September 1943)

    LEWIS – (Sergeant); Service Number – 159217 RAF (Not on CWGC - must have survived the war)
  13. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    On the contrary Dave, you've given me a service number for Lewis! Since it now seems likely he survived the war, I would like to trace him; where from ....etc.
    By the way Dave, what was the source for the Lewis name?
  14. Dave Barlow

    Dave Barlow Member


    If there is any Australian involvement in an aircraft crash then chances are there will be at least one file on it held by our National Archives. I used the names provided for the Aussies to get their service numbers from the ww2nominalroll website (I could have gotten their numbers from the pictures Spidge provided, but I realised that a bit later).

    I then entered their service numbers to the NAA site (as described to berkyboy on the RAAF shipping details thread) and got hits for their casualty & personnel files. Although none of the files have been digitised so they can be read online the casualty files carry "Item notes" which normally list all other names involved in an incident.

    From there I used the service numbers of the RAF crew to compare to the CWGC listings (using the hut six resource) and as the number for Sergeant Lewis didn't produce a hit I assume he survived the war. Unfortunately the item notes didn't give first names, but that info might be on the actual files along with copies of crash incident reports (normally found on these sorts of files).

    Getting files digitised is a relatively easy process and takes a few weeks and costs under $20 to get organised. If there is any info of great importance being searched for I will do this myself, but as I'm normally looking at umpteen RAAF personnel at a time I don't invest the money unless I think I really need to do so as a last resort.


    I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until someone slaps me but I reckon Australia has the most user friendly online official research resources in the world. Nearly everything is free to use and the search functions are brilliant. The next best overseas is the CWGC, but only if the person you are researching was killed. The IWM is pretty good, but only if you get really lucky and find a photo of the person you are looking for.

    I just got service file records sent to me from the UK and NZ - it took months to organise after filling in forms that serve no great purpose except to slow things down. The data is only available to be provided as a photocopy instead of loaded to the internet like here in Aus - which means there could be multiple people each getting a photocopy instead of it being digitised once for people anywhere in the world to read.

    Anyway, I hope this info is of help.


  15. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    Thanks Dave. I did as advised and I have to agree with you - The NA of Australia is the best I have seen to date.
  16. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Much of the info available online from the NA and the AWM websites make us, in most cases the envy of people in other countries.

    Our online databases are user friendly and second to none.
  17. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    Something I've just realised - a Wellington IC had a crew of 6, yet here we just have 5 - wonder who was the 6th?
  18. Jerome

    Jerome Member

    The following is extracted from the December 2010 issue of the Bosworth Bugle:
    During World War II, two aircraft, a Miles Master trainer and a Vickers Wellington,
    crashed close to Husbands Bosworth aerodrome, in the grounds of Bosworth Hall.
    Husbands Bosworth & District branch of the Royal British Legion, with the support of the Parish Council has decided to commemorate, with permanent memorials, those who lost their lives in these accidents and, indeed, all those who served at RAF Husbands Bosworth during the war.
    Plinths and memorial plaques are to be erected at the sites of these accidents and an unveiling ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 4th. Two of the crew members of the Wellington who died were Australian, two were RAF and the aircraft was paid for by the people of Trinidad. A eucalyptus tree will be planted at the site of the Wellington crash, donated by the Royal Australian Air Force as a memorial to their countrymen who died.
    Coffee, to welcome our guests, will be served at 10.00am at the Church Hall, Honeypot Lane. The unveiling ceremonies will take place at the crash sites at about 11.00am. The Royal British Legion chaplain will perform a dedication service and the Last Post will be played. Afterwards there will be a finger buffet and light refreshments in the Church Hall to which everyone is invited to attend. There will be a display of historical information relating to the RAF activities at Husbands Bosworth in wartime from the Historical Society’s archive collection. This exhibition will also feature recent pictures of some of the wartime buildings that still remain today.
    The crash sites are fairly close together but are in open agricultural land, part of which is cultivated. Therefore those attending the unveiling are advised to wear appropriate all-weather attire and robust footwear! A limited amount of transport will be provided to the sites and 4x4 motor vehicle access is possible nearby.
    Well done Husbands Bosworth
  19. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 New Member

    Jerome it looks like a British service number. Might be worth contacting Cranwell to see if they can at least give you Sgt Lewis' initials so you can go on from there...
  20. Cath Hodgson

    Cath Hodgson New Member

    Hi jerome
    By coincidence I have been trawling through the net to try and track down info relating to my great uncles raf service. His name was sgt jack Lewis 1592176. From the documentation I have here and the research I have done it appears that jack is the surviving member of the crew of dv697. You mention above you were looking to put together a museum exhibition relating to this plane so please get in touch if this is still the case.
    C hodgson

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