Tag Archives: William Henry Whitcombe

Newmarket Cemetery – Aircrew headstones recorded

Newmarket Cemetery CWWG PlotOnce again, many thanks for his continuing efforts regarding the contribution of gravestone images for the Roll of Honour – having already provided Cambridge and Feltwell cemeteries, he has now added Newmarket to the list.


FRANKLIN Welch Lawrence Whitcombe

On the night of the 16th December 1942 nine Stirling bombers of the Squadron were detailed to undertake a Gardening Op off Bordeaux.

The surface wind at Newmarket around take off time was fluctuating and tending toward crosswind. Then it backed severely so that the flare path was downwind. During take-off at 21.45hrs, the first three aircraft swung badly on take off, but this was promptly rectified and they became airborne.

The next Stirling due to take off, R9245, Piloted by Sgt. Benjamin Franklin, was subjected to the  same wind effect causing it to swing dangerously, but Sgt. Franklin kept power on to counter it and continued the take-off attempt. The aircraft became airborne briefly but crashed a mile away from the airfield. Two mines exploded and all the crew were killed.The remaining aircraft, due  to take off were grounded.

It was later established that the starboard undercarriage had hit Devil’s Dyke (a mound around the perimeter of Newmarket airfield) and broke off the oil tank to the starboard inner engine, causing it to seize and turning the aircraft into the ground.

The other 3 members of the crew, Sgt Edgar William Harvey RNZAF NZ41902 is buried Lakenham (St. John the Baptist and All Saints) Churchyard, Sgt Tom Pascoe RAFVR 1308491 rests in Ashburton (St. Andrew) Churchyard Extension and Sgt Eric James Burbridge RAFVR 1392526 lays in Wandsworth and Streatham Cemetery, Surrey.


WALSH Moffatt Reddiclife Curtis Stuart

Nine Stirlings were dispatched on the 9th April 1943 from Newmarket to attack targets at Duisburg. On return, a brief wireless message was received from Stirling Mk.III BK770. This short distress signal was all that was heard from the aircraft. A ground report was later received advising an aircraft had crashed at Valley Farm, Bressingham, Norfolk. Soon after impact an explosion was observed and the aircraft burst into flames. None of the crew survived. BK770 was the first Mk.III Stirling to be lost by 75(NZ) Squadron.

The remaining 2 members of the crew, Sgt John William Scudder RAFVR1291875 is buried in Streatham Park Cemetery and Sgt Jack Herbert Worthington RAFVR 574819 rests in Worthing (Durrington) Cemetery Sussex.


Harvey JOHNSTON,Clubb

Nine aircraft were sent to attack targets at Duisburg on the night of 13th May 1943. The Stirling Mk.III BK721, captained by S/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, suffered a starboard inner engine failure during take off. The resulting loss of power prevented the aircraft from gaining the necessary speed and more crucially height and it collided with the earth mound round the airfield  perimeter – the  ‘Devil’s Dyke’ before crashing a short distance from the NW end of the runway, killing all crew members except the Squadron Leader Appleton and the Wireless Operator F/S Stanley Cocks, who were both badly injured.

The remainder of the crew, not buried in Newmarket Cemetery are, Sgt James Samuel Andrews RAFVR 634968, buried Guilford Cemetery, Surrey, Sgt Bernard Arthur Riley Moore RAFVR 1106308 rests in Cheltenham Cemetery and Sgt Joseph Wykes RAFVR 1127228 lays in Dalbeattie Cemetery, Urr, Kirkcubrightshire.