Many thanks to Peter for passing on via Dave, these news clippings of the time that report the events and aftermath of the take off crash of BK809 JN-T on the evening of the 8th September 1943.
Dave’s email regarding these news clippings also tells us a little bit about Peter and his recollections of the Squadron’s time at Mepal.
“Peter lived at the top of the road when the crash happened and has fascinating memories of that time. He tells me that most of the houses in the road had all their windows blown out and some were damaged by shrapnel. In daylight nothing remained of the two houses except an enormous crater where they once stood. As a boy he called those dispersals his own and when nobody was about he regularly went through the fence to check for treasures left by the airmen during the day, broken perspex, .303 rounds and cases, etc. It would have been always the same aircraft parked there and he remembers AA-A in particular.
The villagers often listened in to the Tower radio and would count the aircraft out on a raid and check them back in again afterwards. He particularly remembers an intruder coming in with the bomber stream undetected until it opened fire! The radio English was forgotten he says and the language was BLUE!”
This story has been presented and added to a number of times on the blog and it has always been a source of personal frustration that the (Squadron) records I have, whilst providing details of the Squadron personnel who were killed in the crash and subsequent explosion, only refers to the deaths of the occupants of the houses as ‘civilians’
Perhaps ‘pleased’ is not the right word, but now at least we can know the names of the non Squadron victims of this terrible accident. John Randall, who lived in one of the houses that was destroyed in the explosion after the crash and Edward Kirby, a member of the National Fire Service (N.F.S).
The newspaper clippings provide a remarkable commentary on the events of the night and are good enough quality to be able to read quite easily, so rather than unnecessarily transcribe it, or extracts of it, please take the time to read what follows.
Also in Dave’s email, he remarked that Peter had tried, unsuccessfully, to have a memorial for the civilians that died that night placed in the local Church. Dave wondered out loud – and I tend to agree with him – what the chances are and what would have to be done to get a memorial to all those that perished that night erected near the crash site of BK809 JN-T.
If anybody has any thoughts on this last idea – please get in contact with me.
As I said at the top of this post, this story has been discussed a few time already on the blog – if it interests you and you haven’t seen the previous related posts, here are some that you hopefully, will find of interest.
To read about the events of that night in September 1943, click here.
To see the gravestones of F/O. Ian Robert Menzies (RNZAF NZ415002), Pilot of ND809 and F/S Peter Gerald Dobson MiD (RNZAF NZ439022), a member of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, who went to offer assistance after the crash, click here.
To view the gravestone of Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor RAFVR 943914, Flight Engineer with Ian Menzies crew that night, click here.
To view the gravestone of Section Officer Joan Marjorie Easton (WAAF), who was also killed that night while attempting to help the survivors of the crash click here.