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Bomber crash in Wymeswold

About midnight on 14th January 1945, the inhabitants of Wymeswold were awoken by a loud bang close to the edge of the village. It turned out to be a plane that had crashed in the field between Swift's Close, Hoton Road, and the end of Lower Brook Street. Several people rushed to the scene to see if help was needed. They included Leslie Daft, then living in the village, Mr C Mills, who farmed the field where the crash occurred, and F/Lt Griffiths. They jumped the gate into the field and found the plane which had burst into flames. Exploding ammunition and fuel added to the horror of the scene. Two members of the crew were on fire and dashing away from the wreckage to try and extinguish the flames. Another was caught up in the tail-plane which was suspended in one of the willow trees in the field boundary hedge; with patience and assistance he was released and taken to the ambulance which had arrived. By that time a fire tender was also on the scene and spraying foam on to the wreck to contain the fire.

Mark II Wellington

Wartime silhouette drawing of a Mark II Wellington, similar to the Mark III that crashed at Wymeswold.

Leslie Daft, at home on weekend leave from Leicester, was able to put into practice some of the first-aid he had been taught in the Army when carrying one of the wounded by the crossed wrists carrying position. When the field was searched afterwards his Swan pen was found and returned to him.

Subsequent research at the RAF Museum at Hendon showed that the plane was a Wellington Mark III from a training unit based at Lichfield, and that it had been on exercise. It had been making a tight circuit in poor visibility when it had stalled and crashed. The crew were all from the Royal Australian Air Force. Flying Office Peace unfortunately lost his life but the other five – F/O Cranley, pilot; F/O Thompson, navigator; F/O Hann, bomb aimer; P/O Minns, air gunner; F/Sgt Reuter, wireless operator and air gunner – were only slightly injured.

An interesting question arises and to date we can find no explanation. The farmer searched his field thoroughly for any debris that might be injurious to his animals and found a plaque which gives the plane's serial number as FLVACH/15419, the accident card from Hendon describes the plane as a Wellington III with the serial number X3465.

The plaque with the Wellington's serial number f

The plaque with the Wellington's serial number found by Mr C. Mills.

The farmer also found a few coins – pennies and farthings.

[This article was prepared by Alec Moretti from a substantial amount of information kindly sent to him by Leslie Daft.]

Originally published in WHO Newsletter 2002.

Copyright the author.

See also Wymeswold airfield

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