Connect with us

News

Memorial to Lancaster bomber crew that crashed near Whittlesey 80 years ago

The only crew member’s body recovered was Sgt John Willis, Tail Gunner

Avatar photo

Published

on

In the early hours of the morning of 19th April 1944 Avro Lancaster ND475 of 576 Sqn Bomber Command crashed into an Eastrea Field near Whittlesey with the loss of 8 crew members.

It was returning from a successful raid on the railway yards at Juvisy-sur-Orge, near Paris, when, without warning, it went into a steep dive and crashed in a field at Wype Drove, Eastrea, near to the junction with Benwick Road.

Only one body was recovered from the scene, that of Tail Gunner Sgt. Willis, who is buried in Bury Cemetery, Lancashire. The remaining crew members were never recovered and remain in that field.

Advertisements
Pictures

This Friday, the 19th of April 2024, on the 80th anniversary of that crash a memorial to the crew members (seven of whom were never recovered) will be unveiled at The Eastrea War memorial on Wype Road.

The service will be attended by members of 57 squadron RAF, the squadron association, Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre (custodians of the squadron’s heritage), The Royal British Legion, The RAF Association, local dignitaries, and members of the public.

Also present will be the owners of the land where ND475 crashed and custodians of the site and local residents – including the last living individuals to witness the scene.

Avro Lancaster III (ND475 DX-) on a mission to Juvisy-sur-Orge on 1944-04-19

Avro Lancaster III (ND475 DX-) on a mission to Juvisy-sur-Orge on 1944-04-19

The memorial has been privately arranged by Cllr Barry Wainwright and Cllr Bob Wicks of Whittlesey Town Council.

The ceremony will start at 10:45 and last for about half an hour. Anyone is welcome to attend.

The intention is to mount the memorial plate on a stone plinth, but due to the final permissions being received only a couple of weeks ago, the plate will be temporarily mounted on a wooden display board.

This will be replaced by the stone plinth later this year. It was felt more important to mark this significant anniversary than wait for the stone to be delivered.

History

The aircraft was reported as hitting the ground in a “vertical, high-speed dive” and was totally destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire.

There was speculation at the time that the aircraft was shot down by a Luftwaffe night fighter that was operating in the area on that night, attacking two other returning bombers at Ely and Chatteris, but this was never conclusively proved.

The only crew member’s body recovered was Sgt John Willis, Tail Gunner.

From left: Anniversary memorial placed by Brown Family, The grave of Sgt John Willis, Bury Cemetery, Lancashire, and memorial placed by local resident

From left: Anniversary memorial placed by Brown Family, The grave of Sgt John Willis, Bury Cemetery, Lancashire, and memorial placed by local resident

Sgt. Willis was buried in Bury Cemetery, Lancashire. His headstone is inscribed “Too dearly loved to be forgotten, he died that we may live”.

Advertisements
canopyuk.com in-article

The remaining seven crew members were never recovered, and they are recorded as “No known grave”.

Crew

RAAF 420493 P/O Oberg, Albert Edward, Captain (Pilot) (age 32)

RAAF 425129 P/O Culliford, Ronald Firth (2nd Pilot) (age 22)

RAFVR 1522824 Sgt Kinnes, William Duncan (age not known)

RAFVR 174670 Sgt Crossley, Edmund Forbes (age 34) RAFVR 174690 Flt Sgt Pizzey, Herbert Rex (age 23)

RAFVR 1394671 Sgt Richards, Joseph Stewart (age 20)

RAF 174599 Sgt Adams, Henry Harris (age 40) (see below)

RAFVR 2208994 Sgt Willis, John Frederick (age 19)

(At 40, not only was Pilot Officer Adams well above the age associated with operational aircrew, but he was also amongst the oldest airmen killed on Bomber Command” RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: 1944 v. 5. W R Chorley)

The Crash Site

The crash site is a field north of Wype Drove, close to its junction with Benwick Road. The field is jointly owned by members of the Brown Family of Wype Mere Farm, Anglebridge, Whittlesey.

It has been named as “Lancaster Field” by the family in memory of the men who died there.

Though jointly owned by the family, the field is managed by Robert Brown and most of the communication with the Brown family has been conducted with him.

The Brown family had reservations about having a permanent memorial at the crash site as they were concerned it would attract metal detectorists and souvenir hunters. The crash site is, of course, also a war grave.

Facebook

Read More

Jesus Green Lock footbridge (above) and Baits Bite Lock footbridge have been temporarily closed, following the Conservators of the River Cam’s decision to close both locks. PHOTO: Camcycle Jesus Green Lock footbridge (above) and Baits Bite Lock footbridge have been temporarily closed, following the Conservators of the River Cam’s decision to close both locks. PHOTO: Camcycle
News15 hours ago

Shock Cambridge footbridge closures ‘unannounced and hugely controversial’

Closures will not affect access to the River Cam towpaths or access to Fen Road, Milton

Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, May 25. PHOTO: Pamela Raith
News16 hours ago

‘Audience wasn’t just laughing, some were in hysterics’ Mind Mangler at Cambridge

REVIEW: Mind Mangler is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until May 25.

Neighbourhood officers were on patrol in Arbury on 15 March when they saw Elsi Hafizi hand over what they suspected was drugs to a woman. Neighbourhood officers were on patrol in Arbury on 15 March when they saw Elsi Hafizi hand over what they suspected was drugs to a woman.
News16 hours ago

WATCH: Cocaine dealer caught in the act by Cambridge police

Police watch drug deal before arresting suspect

Labour group now 10 on Cambridgeshire County Council with the decision by Cllr Keith Prentice to join them. New line up revealed today. PHOTO: Cambridgeshire Labour Party Labour group now 10 on Cambridgeshire County Council with the decision by Cllr Keith Prentice to join them. New line up revealed today. PHOTO: Cambridgeshire Labour Party
News1 day ago

Former Cambridgeshire Conservative county councillor moves to Labour

Keith Prentice is the county councillor for St Neots Priory Park & Little Paxton

Charles Swift: a city councillor in Peterborough for 62 years. He is thought to have been the longest serving councillor in the country Charles Swift: a city councillor in Peterborough for 62 years. He is thought to have been the longest serving councillor in the country
News1 day ago

62 years a councillor, Peterborough honours former city mayor Charles Swift

Charles Swift passed away in August 2022 aged 92

Residents are asked to have their say on the Waterbeach to Cambridge transport scheme, that will support thousands of new homes being built in the new town and provide quick and easy options to avoid travelling on the busy A10. Residents are asked to have their say on the Waterbeach to Cambridge transport scheme, that will support thousands of new homes being built in the new town and provide quick and easy options to avoid travelling on the busy A10.
News1 day ago

Help us shape Waterbeach to Cambridge transport plans says GCP

There are three public events where people can find out more

Rytis Lisauskas, 32, had been turning up at the victim’s home in Peterborough every day since their decade-long relationship ended in July last year. Rytis Lisauskas, 32, had been turning up at the victim’s home in Peterborough every day since their decade-long relationship ended in July last year.
Crime1 day ago

Huntingdon stalker jailed for ‘violent attacks’ on ex wife in Peterborough

Victim and her family experienced 'traumatic' time

Renaldo Denollari of Elderberry Close, Ely, grew cannabis in 2 bedrooms and his loft in Ely. He has been jailed Renaldo Denollari of Elderberry Close, Ely, grew cannabis in 2 bedrooms and his loft in Ely. He has been jailed
Crime1 day ago

Jail for Ely man who used 2 bedrooms and a loft to grow cannabis

Police offer reminder on how to spot a cannabis 'farm'

Cllr Marco Cereste, surrounded by family and friends, is believed to be the first person of Italian ethnicity to be elected mayor of a British city. PHOTO: Terry Harris Cllr Marco Cereste, surrounded by family and friends, is believed to be the first person of Italian ethnicity to be elected mayor of a British city. PHOTO: Terry Harris
News2 days ago

In Peterborough Il nuovo sindaco è italiano – the new mayor is Italian

Cllr Marco Cereste arrived in England in 1953 on Coronation Day

Cllr Dennis Jones, new leader of Peterborough City Council, wants to introduce a ‘true café culture’ into the city centre and ‘make it a place where it is welcoming’ PHOTO: Terry Harris Cllr Dennis Jones, new leader of Peterborough City Council, wants to introduce a ‘true café culture’ into the city centre and ‘make it a place where it is welcoming’ PHOTO: Terry Harris
News2 days ago

‘Corbynista, tribal Labour’ leader takes the helm at Peterborough City Council

Peterborough First praised for their 'short but remarkable term in administration'