Vickers Wellington II – W5492 – LQ-K – 405 Squadron - 18th September 1941
On the 18th September 1941, the crew of the above aircraft along with one man from ground crew took off from Pocklington to carry out a routine Photographic Training Flight & Wireless Air Test when the dinghy broke loose from its stowage, fowling the tail elevators which sent it into a steep dive when the tail section broke off at approx. 5000 feet. The aircraft crashed at 1105hrs near to Northfield Farm, 2 miles NNE of Pocklington.
All 8 of the Crew lost their lives in the crash with 4 being buried at Barmby Moor. They were :-
Sgt Ronald George Chandos - RAFVR - Pilot
Sgt Norman Watson Thompson – RNZAF - 2nd Pilot
Sgt Frederick Peter Turton - RAFVR - Observer
Sgt Gabriel Phillips - RAFVR - Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Sgt Charles Harold Fletcher - RAFVR - Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Sgt James Matthew Maxon - RCAF - Air Gunner
Sgt Walter Irvine Strother - RAFVR - Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
AC1 Harry Armitage - RAFVR - Passenger (Ground Crew)
Sergeant Norman Watson Thompson – 2nd Pilot
Norman Watson Thompson was born in 1916 in Wairarapa, New Zealand to William Watson Thompson, a Farmer & Agnes Elizabeth Thompson.
A sister Winifred Agnes had been born in 1916 & a brother John Valentine would follow William in 1919.
In 1919 the family were living at Morrisons Bush & by 1928 they had moved to West Street, Greytown where William is still working as a Farmer.
Norman joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force & was given the Service No 402914. I was unable to find records relating to Normans Service. It is possible that he would have carried out his flight training in Canada. He went on to serve with 405 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force based at Pocklington.
He was 24 years old when he died. Swimming baths at his home town were opened to the commemorate the 20 local men who lost their lives in WW2, Normans name is among them.
Sergeant Frederick Peter Turton – Observer
Frederick Peter Turton was born on the 5th October 1914 in Wolverhampton to Frederick Randolph Turton, a Medical Practitioner & Constance Maud Jones.
A sister Constance Maud had been born the previous year & a Brother Dennis Leslie would follow in 1916.
Frederick & Constance had married in 1912 & it appears that Frederick had put his career first marrying at 47 years old, Constance was 10 years his junior.
The year before their marriage Frederick is living in Wolverhampton working on his own account with 2 domestic servants.
By the 1939 Register the family are living at 9 Meadow Road, Finchfield, Wolverhampton & Frederick is working as an Auctioneers Clerk, his brother Dennis is a Radio Engineer & their Father still a Medical Practitioner.
Frederick joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 937811, he would go on to serve with 405 Squadron at Pocklington & was 26 years old when he died & in his will left his savings of £624 11s 6d to Ethel Johnston.
Fredericks father would pass away just a few years later in 1947 & his mother in 1959 both are buried in Merridale Cemetery, Wolverhampton
Sergeant James Matthew Maxon – Air Gunner
James Matthew Maxon, Junior was born on the 1st June 1908 in Galesburg, Illinois, USA to James Maxon & Blanche Morris.
James & Blanche had married on the 9th September 1903 in Marquette, Michigan & at the time James worked as a School Principal & Blanche as a Teacher.
By the 1910 Census they have moved to Galesburg & James Senior is now working as a Clergyman.
The family have moved to Jefferson, Kentucky by 1920 & have another son John who had been born about 1911. James Senior is now listed as being a Church Rector.
In 1930 the family have moved again to Hamilton, Tennessee where James Senior is a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. It seems probable that the family moved about for the fathers work.
James Junior would attend University where he gained a Batchelor of Arts degree & studied Journalism.
Between 1930 & 1935 James Junior would work as a reporter with the Chatta Times then the Herald Examiner in Chicago.
He would go on to work as an Assistant for a year with Goodwin Company before commencing employment with the US Government in 1937 as a member of President Roosevelts press relations staff, where he served until he joined up.
In 1936 James Junior had married Jean Earle but the marriage ended in divorce in 1939.
On the 10th June 1940 at Ottawa James Junior would enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was given the Service No R/54040. He gives his hobbies as Writing, Hunting, Flying, Football, Baseball, Fishing, Badminton & Driving. His description is given as 5 ft 6 inches tall, Black/Grey Hair, Brown eyes & Dark Complexion. Although initially recommend for a post as an Observer within Air Crew he was later allocated to a post as a Wireless Operator & Air Gunner.
Later in the month James would commence his Initial Training at Regina, Saskatchewan before moving to Wireless School in Montreal in August of 1940. During his time there he went AWOL on a couple of occasions & was duly given detention & loss of pay. His Wireless School report states that his training was discontinued due to inability & lack of trying, that he showed no interest in the course & had poor discipline (referring to his AWOL & Detention issues). He was therefore only recommended for General Duties.
On the 25th October 1940 & without Air force Permission he married Dorothy Breitenstein in Montreal, she was from Chicago & had presumably made the trip especially for their marriage.
In February of 1941 James would attend Air Gunners School in Jarvis Ontario completing his training the following month.
He left for the UK in April of 1941 where he trained with No 22 Operational Training Unit at Wellesbourne, by the June he had moved to his 1st post with 405 Squadron at Pocklington.
James was 33 when he died, he was Awarded the 39-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, War Medal & the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp, these were sent along with his belongings onto his wife Dorothy. He is commemorated on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton.
His Father who was the 4th Bishop of Tennessee serving between 1935 & 1947 passed away in 1948 & his mother in 1973 they are buried at St Johns Church Cemetery in Ashwood, Tennessee.
Dorothy does not appear to have remarried &passed away in 2001 & is buried along with other members of the Breitenstein family at St Stevens Cemetery, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Sergeant Walter Irvine Strother Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Walter Irvine Strother was born on the 19th November 1912 in Garstang, Lancashire to Arthur Irvine Strother, an Engineer & Mary Collinson. Arthur & Mary had previously married on the 1st November 1911 at St Peters Church & Walter was their first child.
The Family later moved to Scorton Village near to Lancaster.
During World War One Arthur would serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps in France & it was during this time between June & September of 1916 most probably when Arthur was out of the country that Mary committed adultery with a man called Lawrence Crookall.
Mary proceeded to write to Arthur in France & told him that she had met someone else & asked that she be given her freedom, she then moved out of their home & into the General Codrington Hotel. On his return from France Arthur filed for divorce in December of 1916 & further requested that he be granted custody of their only son Walter. Their divorce was finalised in October 1917.
At such a young age all this must have pretty hard on the young Walter, divorce during this time period was after all pretty rare.
In 1935 at Garstang, Walter would marry Greta Martin. They would go on to have a daughter Frances in Blackpool in 1937.
Records suggest that Walter initially enlisted wishing to train as a Pilot about January 1937, he was given the Service No 755999.
In 1939 he is detailed as living at 12 Saville Ave, Fylde with his wife & daughter & is recorded as being a Wireless Operator & Leading Aircraftsman with the RAF. He would later go on to work as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner with 405 Squadron at Pocklington.
He was 28 years old when he died & left all his effects to his wife Greta.
Greta would go on to marry Percy Beatson in 1944.
Sergeant Ronald George Chandos – Pilot
Ronald George Chandos was 25 years old when he lost his life. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 950324. He is buried at Eastwood Cemetery, Glasgow.
Sergeant Gabriel Phillips - Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Gabriel Phillips was 23 years old when he lost his life. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 976646. He is buried in Belfast but is listed as being commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Sergeant Charles Harold Fletcher - Wireless Operator / Air Gunner
Charles Harold Fletcher was 29 years old when he lost his life. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1165250. He was from Bulwell, Nottingham & was the Husband of Noeline Lillian Fletcher. He is buried in Nottingham Northern Cemetery.
AC1 Harry Armitage - Passenger - Ground Crew
Harry Armitage was 32 years old when he lost his life. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1039943. He was from Guiseley, Yorkshire, was the son of George Henry & Frances Martha Armitage & the Husband of Doris Armitage. He is buried at Otley Cemetery, Yorkshire.
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