The Crash of Lancaster ED812.

The Crash at RAF DUNHOLME LODGE of LANCASTER Mk III ED812 (YW-Y)

from No 1660 HEAVY CONVERSION UNIT, RAF SWINDERBY

The Incident

At 1850 hours on Wednesday, 10 November 1943, Lancaster Mk III ED812 (YW-Y) of No 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit took off from RAF Swinderby, near Newark, on a BULLSEYE cross-country flying exercise, which was planned to last around four hours.

Heavy Conversion Units converted trainee bomber crews from the twin-engined bombers they had so far experienced to the four-engined heavy bombers they would fly operationally. The conversion course usually lasted around five weeks and represented the final stage of heavy bomber crew training. BULLSEYE exercises had been introduced in 1942 to simulate operational bombing missions and were also used as training for elements of the national air defence organization, including searchlights, artillery and fighters. The first daylight BULLSEYE took place on 17 July 1942, with London as the target, and the first night BULLSEYE took place on 4/5 August 1942, when London was again ‘attacked’.

Some time around 2130 hours, ED812 suffered an in-flight fire while flying close to RAF Dunholme Lodge. Sections of the wings and other parts broke away from the aircraft, and fell to earth in fields between the villages of Dunholme and Scothern. The fuselage (body) of the aircraft, which contained the crew positions, landed on the Servants’ Quarters of the RAF Dunholme Lodge Officers’ Mess, and burned so fiercely that the aircraft wreckage and the building were completely destroyed. Fire appliances from Welton village and nearby RAF Faldingworth attended the scene to assist RAF Dunholme Lodge’s own crash tender.

Lancaster ED812 was one of a batch of 620 Lancasters built by A V Roe & Co Ltd in Newton Heath, Manchester. An average of 25 aircraft per week had been completed in this batch, with deliveries to the RAF taking place between November 1942 and June 1943. ED812’s total flying time amounted to 465 hours, and it had not undergone any major repairs during its time in service. The Air Ministry’s subsequent crash investigation could not determine whether the in-flight fire had caused the crash, or whether the fire had resulted from some other airborne catastrophe.

The Casualties

All of those on board ED812 on 10 November 1943 were killed:

Service Number

Rank*

Name

Crew Position

Age

Location of Interment

1338645

Sergeant

S G Scutt

Pilot

20

North Sheen Cemetery

1398938

Sergeant

C W Baughen

Flight Engineer

21

West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium

151636

Pilot Officer

J K Paterson

Bomb Aimer

21

Knutsford Cemetery

1561520

Sergeant

I C Brough

Navigator

?

Perth (Wellshill) Cemetery

1365657

Sergeant

F D Grant

Wireless Operator/

Air Gunner

?

Scampton (St John the Baptist) Churchyard

2209228

Sergeant

W Halliwell

Mid-Upper Gunner

19

Middleton (Boarshaw) Cemetery

1850602

Sergeant

E W Plowman

Rear Gunner

19

Yeovil Cemetery

1236350

Aircraftman First Class

N Wade

Passenger

21

Old Woking Burial Ground

* The ranks shown are those recorded in the Operational Record Book of 1660 HCU. However, Sgt Scutt had already been recommended for a commission before the crash but this took effect from 29 November, some 19 days after the crash. His CWGC headstone and records display the posthumous commissioned rank of Pilot Officer. For some unexplained reason, there is also a discrepancy between the rank of J K Paterson as shown in the Operational Record Book and his rank at the time of the crash. He had been promoted to Flying Officer with effect from 19 September and 1660 HCU should have been aware of this at the time of the crash. Despite this, his headstone and CWGC burial record show him correctly as a Flying Officer.

Aircraftman Neville Wade, listed as a ‘Passenger’, was a technician from the Ground Radio section at RAF Swinderby, who specialised in maintaining airborne direction-finding equipment.

In addition to those killed on board the aircraft, three personnel on the ground were seriously burned: Corporal Oldfield (WAAF), Aircraftwoman Radelfinger (WAAF), and Leading Aircraftman Offley (RAF) had all been in the Officers’ Mess Servants’ Quarters at the time of the crash.

If you have any information about the crew or crash of Lancaster ED812 that you would like to share with us, please contact the School.

The crash site today is just a few metres from the entrance to the School’s Main Reception area:

We will remember them.

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