Many thanks to Marc and Matt, 2 ex students of mine, for taking the trouble and time to collect this photograph of Section Officer Joan Easton’s gravestone in Greenwich Cemetery, London. Joan was tragically killed on the night of 8th September 1943 when she went to assist rescuers after the takeoff crash of Stirling Mk.III BK809 JN-T, Piloted by Ian Menzies and his crew.
On the night of 8th September 1943, whilst accelerating to take off, the Stirling bomber piloted by F/O. Ian Robert Menzies (RNZAF NZ415002) suddenly veered to the right of the runway and crashed firstly through a petrol bowser and then into two houses on the far side adjoining the perimeter track. It caught fire almost simultaneously, and in the fire, various bombs exploded, causing the aircraft to be a total wreck. Three members of the crew, a W.A.A.F. Officer of R.A.F. Station Mepal and an aircrew Sergeant, and 2 civilians were killed and other civilians were injured.
75 (NZ) Sqn RAF Operations Record Book (ORB)
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets. The carried their maximum bomb load in bombs of 1,000lb., and 500lb.. One aircraft crashed whilst taking off and two returned early. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Not many fires were seen but numerous huge explosions were observed. Some heavy and light predicted A.A.Fire and a few searchlights were encountered but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was good and visibility was clear except for slight ground haze. Navigation was excellent.
The aircraft that crashed during take-off was captained by F/O. I.R.MENZIES. Whilst taking off it swung off the runway and crashed into two houses on the far side adjoining the perimeter track. It caught fire almost simultaneously, and in the fire, various bombs exploded, causing the aircraft to be a total wreck. Three members of the crew, a W.A.A.F. Officer of R.A.F. Station MEPAL and an aircrew Sergeant, and 2 civilians were killed and other civilians were injured. The W.A.A.F. Officer and the aircrew sergeant lost their lives whilst trying to render assistance.
Page 587, 1943. Form 540/ 541 AIR27/ 646 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal. National Archives.
Read a previous post about this crash here.
See the gravestones of F/O Ian Menzies, Pilot and F/S Peter Gerald Dobson MiD, who also went to the rescue of the crew and villagers and was killed that night, who now rest in Cambridge Cemetery here.
See the gravestone of Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor, Flight Engineer with the Menzies crew, who now rests in Buxton Cemetery here.