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1654 HCU - LK 517 - Did the HCUs have ORBs?

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  • jamesinnewcastl
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Nov 2010
    • 406

    1654 HCU - LK 517 - Did the HCUs have ORBs?

    Hi All

    I asking around on the behalf of people in Shildon and relatives of those killed on Stirling LK 517. They would like to know the names of those killed - normally I'd reach for the ORB but can't find any in The National Archives. Did the HCUs have ORBs?

    Cheers
    James
  • andrewclark
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Oct 2013
    • 185

    #2
    I think 1654's ORB will be in AIR29/613.....

    Comment

    • Mothminor
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Dec 2012
      • 935

      #3
      The Accident Report is available from The National Archives here - http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...ils/r/C2684828

      North-East War Memorials Project has a page on the crash listing names - http://www.newmp.org.uk/detail.php?contentId=9769

      Comment

      • R J A Taylor
        NX611 Preservationist
        • Jan 2000
        • 164

        #4
        Casualties listed on this link - https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=172915

        Extract from the Northern Echo - "MEMORIES 125 and 129 reported on the crash of a Stirling bomber at 5.15pm on Wednesday, May 31, 1944, onto the Co-operative farm at West Thickley, Shildon.

        All seven members of crew led by a Newcastle pilot were killed.
        Valerie Johnson was only five at the time but her mother told her how they were among a group of mothers and children returning from the pictures in Bishop Auckland.
        We were walking along the old railway line which leads from the King William to Shildon station, she says. Before the Jubilee Estate was built, there was a completely open view towards the Store Farm.
        My mother and most of the other ladies gazed in fascination at the plane.
        Then they realised that one lady who had lived in London for part of the war had pushed her son onto the ground and was lying on top of him to protect him.
        Den Ewbank, who was taken to see the wreckage by his father, says: The inquiry put the crash down to pilot error, but the crash report states that there was something stuck in the scavenge pump of one of the engines.
        These aircraft were notoriously underpowered and so the height from wheels to cockpit was huge to give it extra lift at take-off.
        The Short Stirling bomber was on a training flight from RAF Wigsley in Lincolnshire.
        The men who perished, all members of the RAF Volunteer Reserve, were: Pilot Officer Stanley Wilson, 27, of Newcastle; Flight Engineer Sergeant Donald Curtis, 23, of Ebbw Vale, Wales; Navigator Sergeant Nathaniel Crawford, 30, from Larne, County Antrim; Bomb Aimer Flying Officer John Brooks, 36, of Salford; Wireless Operator Sergeant Fred Bates, 21, of Blackpool; Air Gunner Sergeant Thomas Parr, 27, of Droylsden, Manchester; and Air Gunner Sergeant Walter Lawton, of Liverpool. "
        Last edited by R J A Taylor; 9th December 2018, 23:08.

        Comment

        • Ossington
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Jun 2015
          • 117

          #5
          As it happens, I have photographed Wigsley's ORB's (AIR28/946 covers May 44) As usual, it gives scant detail:
          A Stirling Aircraft LK517, was detailed to complete a short cross country exercise with Time and Distance runs, this aircraft crashed at SHILDON, COUNTY DURHAM, though causes at present unknown. All of the crew were killed. Pilot, 173804 Pilot Officer S WILSON, Flight Engineer, 1259055 Sergeant CURTIS D.W., Navigator, 1545673 Sergeant CRAWFORD N., Air Bomber, 151987 Flying Officer J. BROOKE, Wireless Operator, 1622071 BATES F., Mid-Upper-Gunner, 2212825 Sergeant PARR G. and Rear Gunner 2209661 Sergeant LAWTON W.

          Capitals as per the original. Personnel details above differ slightly to that recorded in Bill Chorley's Vol 8, p.115, who also adds:
          T/o 144 Wigsley for a cross-country detail. Broke up in cloud and crashed 1650 at West Thickley Farm between Midridge and Shildon, two miles W of Aycliffe, Durham. It was considered that the tail assembly had been put under excessive strain and this led to the eventual structural failure.
          The aircraft was a Mk. III.

          Comment

          • Ossington
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Jun 2015
            • 117

            #6
            David Thompson knows more than most about things aeronautical in the NE, he writes on here occasionally. I can email the page above to anyone who is interested and I wouldn't mind seeing a copy of the crash report should anyone get one.

            Comment

            • jamesinnewcastl
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Nov 2010
              • 406

              #7
              Hi All

              Thanks for all the very rapid responses! I have already asked The National Archives for a page count estimate then I'll order a scan (I'll post when I have it). I've pointed the original enquirer to this site to read all your responses first hand.

              It seems that there is some discussion as to whether or not the crew was Canadian - it's clear that two are not and the addresses given for the rest are not in Canada. I'm looking on Forces War Records to find Nationality.

              I do have some information already on this accident - see pics. It seems that this and the crashes of EH933, EE956 and LK517 were all linked by failure of the tail section breaking away. Most of my data relates to the investigation of the weakness.

              Comment

              • Ossington
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Jun 2015
                • 117

                #8
                According to the wonderful Commonwealth War Graves Commission website:
                Stanley Raymond Wilson, 173801 (not 4) was 27, buried Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Byker and Heaton, Sec. 20 Grave 380.
                Curtis Donald Wilfred, 1259055, was 23, buried Ebbw Vale (Cym) Sec. C South Border, Row 5, Grave 5.
                Crawford Nathaniel Hugh, 1545673, was 30, buried Raloo Church in Ireland.
                Brooks John Mccallum, 151987, was 36, Commemorated at Manchester Crem. Panel 9
                Bates Fred, 1622071, was 21, Blackpool (Carleton) Cemy.
                Parr Thomas, 2212825, was 27, Manchester (Phillip Park Cemy.) Sec. K Church 2049, Screen Wall.
                Lawton Walter Joseph, 2209661, no age given, Liverpool (Anfield) Cemy. Sec.5 C of E Grave 869.

                Note slight discrepancies with the ORB entry, not uncommon alas, but understandable with time pressures at the time.
                All were RAFVR.
                It is not proof, but the fact that all appear to have a home-town link would suggest that none of the above were Canadian. Those Canadians buried in Britain usually end up at Harrogate (Stonewall) Cemetery. Administratively convenient for Four Group Bomber Command, largely Canadian and based in Yorkshire.

                Comment

                • jamesinnewcastl
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Nov 2010
                  • 406

                  #9
                  Thanks Ossington

                  I've checked with Forces War records and:

                  Thomas Parr - British 27
                  Josepth Walter Lawton - British no age given
                  Fred Bates - No nationality or age given
                  John Brookes - British 36 (A good age!)
                  Donald Curtis - British 23
                  S Wilson - British 27
                  Hugh Crawford - Can't find him

                  So mostly British, probably all British but two crew members I can't confirm using the Forces War records data base (possibly my incompetance!)


                  Cheers
                  James



                  Comment

                  • dp_burke
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Oct 2009
                    • 29

                    #10
                    Forces War Records seem to be just giving you the ages based on the data they likely have lifted from the CWGC registers, note Lawton having no age in both sources.

                    You can make a good attempt at the ages of the men using freebmd.org.uk and using the death register entries
                    Bates Fred 21 Durham W. 10a 233
                    Brooks John M 36 Durham W. 10a 233
                    Curtis Donald W 23 Durham W. 10a 233
                    Parr Thomas 27 Durham W. 10a 233
                    Wilson Stanley R 27 Durham W. 10a 233
                    Crawford Nathaniel 30 Durham W. 10a 232
                    Lawton Walter J 21 Durham W. 10a 234
                    NOTE: Blue links in table above no longer work.
                    Some odd variations in the names they were registered dead with, but they would allow one to get their death certificates. IN West Durhman Registeration District, Volumn 10a pages 232 to 234

                    All are RAF going by the format of their service numbers, RCAF NCO tend to start with the letter R, officers with J or C.

                    RAAF and RNZAF are distinctive in having 6 digits starting with 41, 42 etc,

                    And dependin gwhere you read the number Commonwealth personell may have the letters AUS or NZ or CAN appended to the start of the service number, i.e. CAN/J12345 or AUS421234.
                    Last edited by dp_burke; 11th December 2018, 03:12.

                    Comment

                    • jamesinnewcastl
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Nov 2010
                      • 406

                      #11
                      Hi dp_burke

                      Thanks for the information - freebmd is an interesting site that I've not come across, took me a while to work out the BMD stood for!

                      From what I've read about crews ages these guys seem quite mature. and on a training flight, so I guess at least one of them would have done a tour of duty.


                      Cheers
                      James
                      Last edited by jamesinnewcastl; 11th December 2018, 08:06.

                      Comment

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