Liverpool (Ford) Roman Catholic Cemetery – S/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton Mid RAF 42475

ERM Appleton

It took me a good while to find the gravestone of Squadron Leader Edward Appleton. Whilst I am experienced enough to not automatically expect a Commonwealth War Grave, when I finally did find the stone, I was a little perplexed – this  increased whilst trying to find out what actually happened to Edward on the 31st of August 1943.

Upon finding Edward’s gravestone, I was interested to see it existed as an additive inscription to a stone that already recorded 5 other individuals, all members of the Southwell family. The gravestone read as follows:

Joseph Louis Southwell who departed this life on September 18th 1893 aged 41 years. This stone is erected by his  employers and friends as a token of respect and esteem a trusty servant a loyal friend. R.I.P
Joseph L. Southwell who departed this life on May 25th 1882, aged 9 years.
Also of Humphrey Southwell who died on April 24th 1915 aged 34 years.
Elizabeth Jane Southwell, died 10th December 1929
Lucy Agnes Southwell died 19th February 1931.
S/Ldr Edward Robert M. Appleton killed on active service 31st August 1943 aged 23 years R.I.P

I would obviously be fascinated therefore to understand the relationships and relevance of the inscriptions…….

The details of Edwards death are also a little complicated, relative to the normal post about an airman killed with the Squadron, so thanks to Kevin for pointing me in the direction of a thread on the RAF Commands forum within which the events of the night of Edward’s death were discussed and discovered – so belatedly and indirectly thank-you also to all of those that contributed to this original discussion thread.

Edward arrived at  Newmarket on the 16th April 1943. On the 26th of that month he flew as 2nd Pilot in Peter Buck’s crew to Duisburg.

26/04/1943 – Attack Against Targets At Duisburg
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1000 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. One aircraft however failed to take-off as the pilot was sick. And two aircraft returned early. The remaining five aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, which was a mass of flames. Large concentrated fires being seen which were spreading. Very heavy A.A.Fire was experienced in the target area, which was mainly predicted and co-operation with cones of searchlights. Some enemy aircraft were seen and one combat took place. The weather was very good in the target area, but visibility was impaired by haze caused by the large fires. Navigation was very good. Stirling Mk.III BF517, captained by F/O P.J. Buck, was attacked by an unseen fighter when about 30 miles North of the target. The rudder and tail of the aircraft was damaged, and the rear gunner was mortally wounded. The fighter was evaded and by jettisoning all moveable objects height was maintained and the aircraft returned to base where a perfect crash landing was made. Besides the rear gunner who lost his life, minor injuries were also received by two other members of the crew.

Stirling Mk.I BK619 AA-X

P/O Peter John Oswald Buck, RNZAF NZ413377 – Pilot.
F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Alexander Fielding Minnis, RAFVR 126499 – Navigator.
Sgt. A.P. Sadler, RAFVR 1379771 – Air Bomber.
P/O John Henry Symons, RCAF R.77568/ J.16507 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J.W. Jones, RAFVR 1068491 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J. Watson, RAFVR 1021021 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Brian Arthur Rogers, RAFVR 1384352 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:15 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 04:00

https://75nzsquadron.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/img_0017.jpg?w=788&h=584

The rear gunner’s turret of a 75(NZ) Squadron Stirling being inspected by S/Ldr. Dick Broadbent and W/Cdr. Wells, a visiting fighter pilot, after damage by a night fighter over Duisburg on 26th April 1943.

Above, a photograph from “The Royal Air Force at Newmarket”. The caption identifies the incident and links it therefore to the attack on the Buck crew and the death of Sgt. Brian Rogers. A post showing Sgt. Roger’s name on the screen wall of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium and more details by the attack by the Nachtjagd can be read here.

The Appleton crew began their tour on the 27th April with a fairly standard and considered ‘easy’ Gardening Op.

27/04/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operations, with mines of 1500 lb. One of these returned early owing to engine trouble and the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. No enemy aircraft, A.A. fire or searchlights were encountered. There was heavy cloud and occasional rain storms in the mining area although visibility was good, except for haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.I BK614 JN-H

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
P/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:07 – Landed 05:51
Flight Time 04:44

01/05/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with Mines of 1500lb, only two aircraft, however, took-off owing to bad weather. They successfully dropped their Mines in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. Some enemy aircraft and a few searchlights were encountered, but they were ineffective. There was 7/10th. Cloud over the gardening area, although visibility was good, Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BK776 AA-R

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
P/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:31 – Landed 05:19
Flight Time 07:48

04/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets At Dortmund
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets, with bombs of 2000lb 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft, however, failed to take-off owing to engine trouble. The remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, with the exception of two which returned early owing to engine trouble. Large fires and explosions were seen, which appeared to come from the center of the target area. Some A.A.Fire and searchlights were encountered, but they were ineffective. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. No cloud was prevalent in the target area, and visibility was good, ground detail was obscured by the smoke from the fires. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK721 AA-Z

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
Sgt. Robert Frederick Harvey, RNZAF NZ416483 – 2nd Pilot.
P/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:58 – Landed 03:52
Flight Time 04:54

12/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets At Duisburg
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2000lb, 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. Stirling Mk.III. BK.721 captained by F/Lt. E.R.M. Appleton, whilst taking off failed to clear an obstruction at the end of the runway and crashed almost immediately afterwards, all the crew with the exception of the captain and the wireless operator, F/Sgt. Cocks, S.G. were killed. The captain received severe injuries and the wireless was also injured, both were admitted to hospital. As a result of this crash two aircraft were unable to take-off. One aircraft returned early owing to the Captain being sick. The remaining five aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, and large concentrated fires and some explosions were seen. Some heavy A.A.Fire, co-operating with searchlights was encountered, but it was ineffective. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was very clear in the target area with good visibility except for ground haze which prevented identification. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BK721 AA-Z

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
Sgt. Robert Frederick Harvey, RNZAF NZ416483 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:37 – Landed –
Flight Time Crashed

It is only writing this that I realise that only a few weeks ago I visited Cheltenham Cemetery to record the headstone of Sgt. Bernard Moore. To read more details of this incident that killed all crew bar Edward and his Wireless Operator, Stanley Cocks click here.

One might speculate as to whether Edward was enjoying incredibly good luck, or those around him bad. Despite surviving the “Devils Dyke” crash Edward was seriously injured. The Form 540 shows that Edward was promoted to the rank of Acting Squadron Leader with effect from the 7th of May, authority dated the  16th. A day later on the 17th May, Edward was posted to Non Effective Strength, Base Head Quarters at Mildenhall, where we must assume he undertook appropriate duties while he recovered from the crash of the 12th of May.

On the 31st of August S/L Edward Appleton was an observer on a B-17F of 422 Night Leaflet Squadron (USAAF), the bomber, 42-5376 coded JJ-X “Eager Eagle” was Piloted by 1st Lt Floyd H. Truesdell, out of Chelveston, Northamptonshire.

The flight plan called for an altitude of 7000 feet. The right waist gunner S/Sgt John E. Breen said that the last report he had heard over the inter-phone before the collision was 7200 feet. The flight plan route was over Foulsham.

At approximately 23:30, a Royal Air Force Beaufighter V8715, collided with B-17F Aircraft, Serial No. 42-5376.

The Beaufighter was evidently in a steep bank to the right hitting the B-17 between the No. 3 and No. 4 engines from the front. The force of the collision split the Beaufighter in half and severed the right wing of the B-17F. The two waist gunners, S/S John E. Breen and Sgt Carl G. Ruehl, both parachuted to safety. The B-17F crashed into a farm building on the Parish Church Farm on the south edge of the town of Foulsham, Norfolk County, England, killing 9 other crew members including F/L E. M. Appleton, an RAF Pilot on Detached Service with the 305th Bombardment Group from Royal Air Force No. 3 Group, riding as Observer. There were no civilian casualties.

The farm building was partially demolished, killing five (5) bullocks.

Under the ‘CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS’ of the subsequent investigation it was noted that both aircraft were flying without navigation lights as they were above 5000 feet and there was a Red Air Raid alert on at that time. The accident was unavoidable.

Squadron Leader Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, MiD was 23 years old.

2 thoughts on “Liverpool (Ford) Roman Catholic Cemetery – S/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton Mid RAF 42475

  1. Adrian

    Simon, I’ve done some research on those names and have come up with the following. Elizabeth J Southwell was Edward Appleton’s mother’s maiden name. I don’t believe this is the Elizabeth on the headstone though, his grandmother was also Elizabeth and I think it is her that is being remembered. His grandfather I believe was Joseph Louis Southwell who died in 1893. Like their daughter Elizabeth they named a son after themselves hence the other Joseph Louis who sadly died in 1882 aged only 9. A family historians nightmare but basically Edward is being remembered with his mother’s family.

    Like

    Reply

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