A challenge... 17/05/45

Profile picture for user kev35

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19 years 9 months

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On the 17th of May, 1945, a Lancaster Mk. I of 630 Squadron, operating from East Kirkby, crashed at 1715 in the Wednesfield area of Wolverhampton with the loss of all seven crew. The aircraft was RF124, LE-S. The crew were... F/O B Hall. F/O R J O'Donnell. Sgt. R H Smith. F/O V F D Meade. Sgt. G L Rabbetts. Sgt. V R W Southworth. Sgt. J A Sills. All the crew were returned to their home towns for interrment. Here's the questions........ Can anyone identify the newspapers of the hometowns of these men in which there may be obituaries and even photographs? Does anyone have access to the relevant entries from 630 Squadron's ORB? Was the aircraft carrying a bomb load at the time of the accident? Can anyone tell me the relevant Air Ministry forms for the a/c record card and the loss card? Are they the AM78 and AM79? Does anyone know the exact location of the crash? I have seen it referred to as Moat House Farm and Five Fields but these locations are some way apart. Does anyone have any details of the operational careers of the crew? As ever, all information, help and advice will be very greatly appreciated. Kind Regards, kev35
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Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 9 months

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Well V R W Southworth is buried in Watford. I'd tend to start with the Watford Observer. www.cwgc.org provided the burial information. One of my media planning tools provided the name of the current paid-for weekly newspaper in the area. Moggy

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19 years 9 months

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Hi Kevin Both the Movement and Accident cards will be held at the RAF Museum. AM78 was the aircraft movement card. This gives the contract number as well as the details/dates of all movements. The Air Britain RAF Serials show the unit details and contract information from the AM78 but not the dates. RAF Form 1180 is the Accident Card. The depth of information on this card varies as the war progressed but generally it gives pilot name and the number of fatalities. It may contain a record of his flying hours on type as well as where he qualified. Other information such as the views of the OC, AOC and CinC are also added from the Court of Inquiry. The best source for death information is the Local Coroner report as well as the death certs for each airman. These can be found at the GRO. Police archives will hold the Occurance and Telephone Books for the local "nicks" these will give a much better location. ARP files will also be a good bet. Hope this helps for a starter. Regards Ross
Profile picture for user kev35

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19 years 9 months

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Gentlemen. Thank you for your help. Am following those lines of enquiry. Tonight I spent two hours driving around the Wednesfield area which has changed dramatically since 1945. I'm now almost certain I've found the general area of the crash site. When I've done some scanning I will have some more questions, particularly relating to the effects of the crash on the ground and how it may have affected development planning. Thanks again. Kev35

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14 years 8 months

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Kev, As a close suburb of Wolverhampton, Wednesfield was heavily built up in 45. I think that it will not have changed much since that time. The local paper is the "Express and Star". Jon
Profile picture for user kev35

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19 years 9 months

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Thanks Guys. I spent a couple of hours on Wednesday night driving around the Wednesfield area and think I might have located the site. I have been given a book in which there is a copy of the German bombing map for Wednesfield. Moat House Farm is marked on this map. The area in which the aircraft crashed was farmland at the time and the housing estate there now, Moat House estate, was built in the early 50's. I'll try and scan the maps to show the area then and now. The aircraft is variously said to have flown low over an eye witness and also to have dived almost vertically into the ground. Contemporary reports say there was no piece left larger than a table top and the wreckage was scattered over an area of two square miles. The engines were apparently not recovered and are believed to have sunk to a depth of 25-30 feet. This leads me to another question.... If the engines were buried to this depth and there was also contamination from the fuel, how would this have affected the town planners when they laid the plans for the housing estate? A grainy photograph in the Express & Star shows firefighters at the scene with, in the distance, a building and an electricity pylon. When I parked in Olinthus avenue it was clear that a pylon was directly in front and two cottages built in the early 1900's known as the Hollies would be in the correct relative positions. This has led me to believe that the aircraft hit the Lichfield Road and exploded in the fields adjacent. Much more to do but think I'm in the right area. Regards, kev35