Lancaster parts arrive at Sywell

Sywell Aviation Museum took delivery of some very special artefacts from Yelvertoft and Lilbourne History Group on November 22

On the evening of the December 5-6, 1944, No.6 Group RAF Bomber Command was tasked with bombing Soest in northern Germany. Some 450 aircraft were on ‘ops’ that evening. Avro Lancaster B.1 KB768 NA-E was part of 428 (Ghost) Squadron RCAF based at Middleton St George, County Durham.

En route to the target at around 1900hrs it was involved in a mid-air collision with Handley Page Halifax B.VII OW-N LW200, itself crewed by Canadians (and an RAF flight engineer) from 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron RCAF based at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire. Having fallen to earth near Yelvertoft, Northants, the subsequent fire and ignition of their bomb loads scattered aircraft wreckage over a wide area. All 14 crew members, the complement of both aircraft, were killed.

Recovered some years later were three artefacts from KB768 - part of its tail fin with ‘fin flash’ evident, part of the rear turret crew door and part of a wing flap. They led a somewhat nomadic existence until coming into the possession of Yelvertoft and Lilbourne History Group which brought out the fin each Remembrance Sunday to commemorate the fallen for many years. In 2014 on the 70th anniversary of the tragedy, local representatives and those from the RAF and RCAF held a memorial service which saw the planting of English oak and Canadian maple trees on King George V field in the village, to the accompanying bells of All Saints Church.

The tail fin of Lancaster KB768 is now at Sywell Aviation Museum
The tail fin of Lancaster KB768 is now at Sywell Aviation Museum BEN BROWN

Following its final use at the Remembrance service in November 2022, the items were donated by Yelvertoft and Lilbourne History Group to Sywell Aviation Museum where they will be conserved and displayed for years to come.

In Memorium: We Will Remember Them:

AVRO LANCASTER KB768, 428 SQUADRON RCAF, RAF MIDDLETON ST GEORGE

Flt Lt H A Shewfelt RCAF – Pilot

Flt Off J Reid RCAF – Navigator

Flt Off S W Pechet RCAF – Air bomber

Flt Sgt A G Baxter RCAF – Wireless op / Air gunner

Flt Sgt J E Virag RCAF – Wireless op / Air gunner

Fg Off E Cooper RCAF – Rear gunner

Sgt C N Collingwood RAF – Flight engineer

 

HANDLEY PAGE HALIFAX LW200, 426 SQUADRON RCAF, RAF LINTON-ON OUSE

Fg Off A V Carter RCAF – Pilot

Fg Off A E Downing RCAF – Navigator

Flt Sgt E J F Harwood RCAF – Air bomber

Fg Off R B Dowding RCAF – Wireless operator

Sgt W J Murrell RCAF – Mid-upper turret gunner

Sgt L T Myron RCAF – Rear gunner

Sgt D L Bourner RAF – Flight engineer

WORDS BY BEN BROWN with thanks to Yelvertoft and Lilbourne History Group and Jane Larder.