Tag Archives: Cpl Kenneth John Howes

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.