Tag Archives: AC2 Wilfred Pownall

Selby Cemetery, Yorkshire – Cpl. Kenneth John Howes RAF 912524


From Hull Northern Cemetery it was back in the car and through the still torrential rain and varied closed and diverted roads to Selby Cemetery to visit and record the Gravestone of Cpl. Kenneth Howes, a member of ground crew who was killed in a training flight accident on the 28th of February 1942.

Again. I must remark on the strange coincidences that seem to follow me with this blog. Last night, while putting together the post about Robert Bertram, Googling, I came across a fascinating thread about the crash that involved Robert Colville. Reading through the very detailed information regarding this crash, I decided to copy paste it all for later reading with a thought it surely would be useful at a later date. Of course, I now realise that the ‘later date’ is actually now – a day later…….

I have already posted the gravestone for Wilfred Pownall, the other fatality in the crash, which can be seen here.

The additional details regarding the crash of X.3355 is as follows and can be read in its entirety here, from the excellent PPRuNe forum(s).

from Errol:
“The crash above occurred in daytime on an air test, presumably would not have a bomb load aboard. The crash originally referred to happened at night and left a large crater when the bombs exploded. How close to Feltwell is Brandon? The mystery deepens!” My entry is in error regarding the location of Lime Kiln Farm from Brandon – it is not ESE, nor really SW but almost directly west, lying almost equidistant between Brandon and the Lakenheath Railway Station (which lies a mile or two north of the town of Lakenheath). I could cannot now find Brandon Fields and wonder if this might have been a transcription error of data on the Form 1180 by my researcher. Since publication I have obtained a copy of a precis of the Court of Inquiry. This lists the crew sans initials and includes Aircraftman Hall, who is the name missing from Bill Chorley’s entry (p38 of his 1942 Vol). It describes Colville, Godwin and Hall’s injuries as ‘serious’. The precis states in part: “On 28-2-42, Sgt Colville (1st pilot) with crew of five, took off in Wellington X.3355 on a test flight. Shortly after becoming airborne the starboard engine failed. The pilot endeavoured to return to the aerodrome but while making a circuit the port engine spluttered and when approaching for a forced landing the aircraft stalled and crashed. An outbreak of fire occured on impact and with the exception of the rear half of the fuselage and engines, the aircraft was destroyed… …the starboard engine failed when the aircraft had not much height. The pilot possibly in trying to force land before he crashed, was compelled to turn to the right against his bad engine. It seems probable that the evidence of AC Hall (seventh witness) that the starboard wing stalled during the turn and dropped, and as the aircraft hit the ground with the starboard wing tip first it swung round to the right… …it took off about 1600 hours and the crash must have occured just before 1625 hours when it was reported to F/Lt Walkerdine (12th witness). Although Mr Harrington {note spelling} (11th witness) states he found one of the occupants in the nose turret, we think it was probably the pilots cockpit. Both AC Godwin and AC Hall state that there was not one in the nose turret at the time of the crash and when we found the front turret it was completely smashed and there was no evidence of it having been occupied…” I don’t think that there can be much doubt about this being the crash the crippled Colville so badly. Perhaps, though, by 1957 memory had played tricks on him or he had embellished the account somewhat, or the account as retailed on the PPRuNe board is a little garbled. Given that there is no mention of a bomb load or explosion in the precis it seems very unlikely that the crash would have caused a ‘crater’. Could this in fact just be an old lime quarry?”

Additional detail from RobFJ:
“My mother today told me the following story :

During this part of the war, she lived in Hockwold, adjacent to RAF Feltwell. She remembers the day the plane came down (she heard the crash). It was in the daytime as she was in her office. She lived in the pub, the Red Lion on Hockwold Green which was on the Brandon Road. The billet for the aircrew was just down the road; they used the pub regularly – so she knew most of the aircrew. That evening she asked the pilots about the crash and they said it was Sergeant Arthur Colville’s plane.

Arthur Colville was actually the pilot who replaced my father, Squadron Leader William Francis Jordan, after he was injured and in hospital from  another crash

Mum was a member of the WRVS and she visited Arthur in Ely Hospital until he was transferred to Stoke Mandeville (by which time he had been promoted to Squadron Leader). Two days after the crash, mum asked Arthur what caused it, he mentioned he was on a test flight but he did not know what had happened except that the ground crew had done their checks but the aircraft, in flight, just wasn’t fit to fly

Although he was in a wheelchair when he left Ely Hospital, mum is totally certain that Arthur had not lost his legs – although his injuries on this crash included fractured skull, arms, legs and ribs”.

Flixton Buck then added:
“Concerning incident on 28.02.42, Wellington Ser. No. X3355 which did indeed crash at Brandon next to George Harrington’s farmhouse.
It was a very cold February afternoon with temperatures below zero and by that time in the afternoon quite dark. The ground crew had been working all day to service the aircraft and were the last off the airfield for an air test. As was the tradition of the time, the skipper of the kite flew it and the Erks went along for the ride. The fire destroyed most of the aircraft and it proved to be impossible to ascertain the exact cause of the crash but it was suspected that in their haste to get away they forgot to open balance cock “A”, located under the Pilots seat which evened up the fuel in the tanks. The engines had enough fuel in the near empty tank for the run up but as soon as she started to lift off started to chuck it.
Sgt Colville turned back towards the Station; Lime Kiln farm was on the downward leg of the circuit, when the Wellington crashed. There was a very small fire behind one engine and Mr Harrington, the Farm foreman who lived at Lime Kiln, started pulling the men from the aircraft and taking them into the kitchen of his house. By the time he reached Colville the aircraft was fully ablaze, and the ammo on board was starting to explode. George noted that Colville was pretty banged up and took him inside the house, where he noted that one of the other men who he had placed on his kitchen table had passed away.

The injured were taken to Ely RAF Hospital and Colville was placed under the care of Sir Archie McIndoe a New Zealander of some repute. That night he was given the last rites but never the less he was a young man and gradually improved. As far as I know he kept his legs but may have had substantial metal plates fitted.
George Harrington was called up to meet the old King and was awarded the British Empire Medal for his troubles.

There was never a large crater at Lime Kiln Farm, but you can still find small pieces of Wimpy there when they plough the field where it crashed”.

So, belatedly, thank you to all above who shared this extra information.


Glossop Cemetery, Derbyshire – AC2 Wilfred Pownall RAF 1043753

W. Pownall Glossop reduced

Wellington Mk.III X.3355 AA-Y took off from Feltwell at approximately 13:10 on the 28th of February 1942 for an engine check. During the air test the starboard motor failed, followed soon afterward by the port engine. As the crew prepared for an emergency landing, the aircraft stalled and crashed at 4:00pm , near Lime Kiln Farm, Brandon, Suffolk, 5 miles North West of Thetford, Norfolk.

The Wellington burst into flames on impact.

Army personnel, stationed nearby, along with local inhabitants, helped to pull the airmen from the burning wreckage. The farmer on whose land the bomber had crashed on, a Mr G. F. Harrington was awarded the British Empire Medal, for bravery shown.

AC2 Wilfred Pownall and Cpl Kenneth John Howes, both groundcrew were killed in the crash and the 2nd Pilot, Sgt. Henry William Woodham RNZAF, died of his injuries later that day.

Cpl Howes now rests in Selby Cemetery, Yorkshire.
Sgt. Woodham was buried in St. Nicholas Churchyard, Feltwell.

Feltwell Cemetery – Aircrew headstones recorded

Feltwell ( St Nicholas) churchyard comp and redcd

Many thanks again to Adrian, this time for going to Feltwell Cemetery to record the gravestones of the 75(NZ) Squadron aircrew who rest their. 75(NZ) Squadron were based at RAF Feltwell between 1940 and 1942 and the dates of the gravestones reflect the obvious proximity of the Station to the churchyard. As with my recent post regarding the images Adrian gathered from Cambridge Cemetery , the airman have been listed in chronological order and grouped by crew, or date of death.

COLLETT, Wilfred Ira  RAF rdcd

Squadron Leader Wilfred Ira Collett (RAF 34232) Died of injuries sustained on the return from a raid on Horst, 4th of August 1940. The Wellington he was flying was damaged over the Ruhr. Despite getting back to the mainland, an attempt to land at RAF Marham, resulted in the aircraft crashing – Wilfred was the only casualty of the crash.

McNAMARA Ryan Elliot crew comp

75(NZ)Squadron Form 540 January 1941
At 10.00 hours on 10.1.41, P/O McNamara was detailed to carry out a Night Flying Test on aircraft T.2550, Letter “L”. After the N.F.T. his instructions were to proceed to Bassingbourn, drop P/O Ryan and bring back a new Pilot who was taking P/O Ryans’s place.

Cloud base at Feltwell was 1,500 feet and P/O McNamara was warned that south and westwards the cloud base would be lower, and , if he did not like it to return to base.

Operations Room was notified of this proposed cross country flight and P/O McNamara ascertained from Operations Air Control that Bassingbourn was serviceable, and gave his approx.. time of take of as 11.30 hours. Station Signals failed to contact the aircraft after it had taken off, E.T.A. base was 13.00 hours. At 14.30 hours Control commenced taking overdue action and rang Bassingbourn on P.B.K. but did not connect until 15.25 hours when they ascertained that the aircraft had not arrived. At 16.40 hours No.3 Group informed us that the aircraft had crashed at Heath Farm, Stapleford, near Duxford, and the following personel were killed or died from injuries.

P/O B.P. McNamara (Captain) unmarried. P/O A.J. Ryan (2nd Pilot) unmarried.
Sgt. Elliot R.B. (Navigator) unmarried. Sgt. J. Olive (W/Operator) unmarried.
Sgt. M.R. Ritchie (Front Gunner) unmarried. Sgt. R.E. Ashby-Peckham (Rear Gunner) unmarried. Seriously injured and taken to Addenbrooks Hospital.

Sgt John Olive (RAF 978156). Buried Elton (All Saints) Churchyard England.
Sgt Matthew Roy Ritchie (RAF 631868). Buried Biggar Croft Cemetery Lanarkshire Scotland.



Sgt Eric Francis Ganaway (RNZAF NZ402110), Rear Gunner with  S/L Reuben Pears Widdowson. 2 months later, Reuben Widdowson would be piloting a Wellington on a return flight from Munster. After being attacked by an ME109, it would take the heroic efforts of a 2nd Pilot called James Allan Ward to extinguish an engine fire………

From ‘New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol. I) CHAPTER 9 — The Part of No. 75 Squadron’ (http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-1RAF-c9.html)

 ‘A favourite ruse of the enemy fighters was to patrol stretches of the English coast in the hope of intercepting bombers as they began their journey. On the night of the squadron’s fourth attack on Hamburg early in May, one Wellington was attacked just after crossing the coast. The bomber was badly damaged and the rear gunner, Sergeant Gannaway, fatally wounded.’


JOYCE, David Campbell RNZAF rdcd

Sgt David Campbell Joyce (RNZAF NZ401278) was 2nd Pilot, flying with P/O William Jeffrey Rees and his crew on the night of the 15/16th July 1941 on a raid to Duisburg. The events of that night are recorded in the Form 540 for July 1941 and make brutal reading.

75(NZ)Squadron Form 540 July 1941
Outstanding Events
Pilot Officer Rees and SGT. Lewis were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Flying Medal respectively. They were captain and wireless operator of a Wellington which was detailed to attack a target in Duisburg on the night of 15/16th July. After a successful attack the aircraft was caught in a belt of searchlights, was struck by flak then attacked by an enemy fighter. Bullets and cannon shell struck the aircraft and exploded in the cabin and blasted open the mid-under turret hatch. The second pilot died of his wounds almost immediately; the front gunner was wounded and died in hospital, the rear gunner was temporarily blinded by a splinter. The observer, when proceeding aft to render assistance to the rear gunner, fell through the damaged under-turret hatch. The wireless operator was shocked and deafened for a period by a cannon shell which exploded close to his head. He eventually recovered and treated the wounded men. He then repaired his set and obtained wireless bearings after which he collected the navigators maps and instruments and assisted the captain to set course for base which was eventually reached and a safe landing made.

Sgt David Henry Conibear (RAF 932380) , the Front Gunner died of his wounds and lays in Rumney (St Augustine) Churchyard, Gwent, Wales.

Perhaps astonishingly, the observer who fell out of the Welington that night , P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter (RCAF J.3754) survived, being captured that night on landing. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner before being repatriated 11th May 1945.


Bentley, Loch Lomand RNZAF

F/S Loch Lomond Bentley RNZAF NZ40393, was Piloting Wellington MK.IC Z8834 AA-P on return from a bombing attack against targets at Brest on the 23rd of December 1941. The aircraft on return, circled Feltwell airfield and awaited permission to land in poor weather conditions. At 2347, the aircraft flew into the ground 2 miles east of Berner’s Heath, about 5 miles south west of Thetford. F/S Bentley was the only casualty – all other crew members surviving but suffering injuries..


WOODHAM, Henry William RNZAF rdcd

Sgt Henry William Woodham (RNZAF NZ402449) was 2nd Pilot on a training flight on the 28th February 1942. The Wellington, Skippered by Sgt. Robert Arthur Colville, suffered first a failure of its starboard engine, followed by a port engine failure. The aircraft crashed at Lakenheath. Sgt. Woodham died of his injuries. The ground crew passenger, Cpl Kenneth John Howes (RAF 912524) and AC2 Wilfred Pownall were killed and now rest in Selby and Glossop Cemetery respectively.


FOUNTAIN, Harris Nichol Comp rdcd

On the 22nd of April 1941 75(NZ) Squadron sent 10 Wellington bombers to attack Cologne. it would result in 2 new crews being headless by the end of that night.

Wellington Mk.III X3705, Piloted by P/O Ivor John McLachlan (RNZAF NZ404390) was attacked on return by an unidentified enemy fighter – the resulting attack left the 2nd Pilot P/O Cedric Niel Fountain (RNZAF NZ41981) dead and the Rear Gunner, Sgt Desmond Stewart Tutty (RNZAF NZ404576) wounded. The aircraft managed to return to base and crash landed.

The citation for Sgt. McLachlan’s Dintinguished Flying Medal (Immediate Award) is as follows: One night in April 1942, this airman was the captain of an aircraft which attacked Cologne. On the return journey whilst still over hostile territory, his aircraft was suddenly attacked by an enemy fighter whose machine-gun fire killed the second pilot and wounded the rear gunner. The aircraft was extensively damaged (including the hydraulic system) causing the undercarriage and flaps to drop, both gun turrets were rendered unserviceable and the aircraft became difficult to control. Undaunted Flight Sergeant McLachlan flew on and finally reached this country where he landed his damaged aircraft safely. This airman has completed numerous sorties, many of which have been against important targets, and he has always shown a high standard of efficiency, skill and resource.

Wellington Mk.III X3487, Piloted by P/O Eric George Delancey Jarman (RAAF AUS.404507), fared even worse. The aircraft was attacked by a JU.88 which resulted in the 2nd Pilot,  P/O Trafford McRae Nicol (RNZAF NZ411929) being mortally wounded and Rear Gunner, Sgt. Richard James Harris (RNZAF NZ402999) being killed. Additionally, the crew’s Navigator, Sgt. William Henderson Taylor (RAF 1051621/122053) and Wireless Operator Sgt. J.A. Fernie were wounded.

Eric Jarman’s citation for his Immediate Award of a Dintinguished Flying Cross reads as follows:
“One night in April 1942 this officer was the captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Cologne. Whilst over the target area, the aircraft was hit by shellfire and sustained damage. The navigator, wireless operator and front gunner were injured, but despite this, Pilot Officer Jarman flew on to make his attack. On the return journey it was discovered that a bomb had not fallen owing to the damage caused by the enemy’ s shellfire whereupon Pilot Officer Jarman altered course and headed for the North Sea so that the bomb could be jettisoned. Before reaching the sea, however, his aircraft was subjected to an attack by an enemy fighter whose fire killed the rear gunner, wounded the second pilot and inflicted further damage on the aircraft. Skilfully controlling the bomber Pilot Officer Jarman continued his flight and after jettisoning the bomb in the sea, he finally reached this country where he made a safe landing with the undercarriage retracted. In the face of extremely harassing circumstances this officer displayed great coolness, courage and determination. He has completed numerous sorties wherein heavily defended targets have been attacked.”

Eric Jarman died night of 27th/ 28th April 1944 with 460 Squadron whilst on a raid to Friedrichshafen. He now rests in Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany.


GRENFELL archer mitchell crew comp rdcd

Wellington Mk.III Z1616 crashed shortly after take off on the 29th June 1942 for targets at Bremen. On impact, the aircraft caught fire – all of the crew were killed

Sgt George Walter Matthew Archer (RAF 1355706) Rear Gunner, Sgt Richard John Grenfell (RNZAF NZ404026), Wireless Operator and Sgt Norman Mitchell (RNZAF NZ404084) Front Gunner/ Air Bomber, rest in Feltwell Cemetery.

Pilot P/O Robert Bertram (RAF 1112264/128536)  lays in Hull Crematorium, Kingston Upon-Hull and the crew’s Observer, Sgt Joseph Guy Quin (RAF 1256373) is buried in Lakeham (All Saints) Churchyard Staines, Middlesex.