A minute or so after midnight on the last day of July 1941, the peace of the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex was shattered as Wellington Mk II W5364 QT-H, returning from a bombing raid on Cologne, ended its homeward journey in fire and destruction here on these rolling slopes.
Whether the plane ever made its intended target, or developed engine trouble over Europe, as I have seen suggested, and had to turn for home, I am unsure. Whatever the details, the six man crew were still a long way from their base at Binbrook in Lincolnshire when their war ended here.
For some reason I now forget I only had my phone camera on me…
…as you can see…
…but these shots will do.
None of the crew of six survived the crash.
|HENRY ALEXANDER VINCENT VIDLER||R.A.F.||27||HULL CREMATORIUM|
|VICTOR RONALD SUTTON||R.A.F.||24||BROCKLEY CEMETERY, LEWISHAM|
|WILFRED STANLEY BROOKS*||R.A.F.||25||RAMSGATE & ST. LAWRENCE CEMETERY|
|ARTHUR ERNEST CAVE||R.A.F.||21||WALLASEY (RAKE LANE) CEMETERY|
|THOMAS STANLEY HATHAWAY||R.A.F. V.R.||24||PRESTON-ON-TEES CEMETERY|
|LEONARD SAUNDERS||R.A.F. V.R.||21||WHITSTABLE CEMETERY|
*His brother John also died on active service.
Flying Officer Nick Bradgate, 149 Squadron, Bomber Command. “The horrors of war never left you and your health never recovered.”
It has long been known as the ‘Airmen’s Grave’ (you will find it annotated as such on the Ordnance Survey map of the forest) even though no one is buried here. I hope it remains here forever.
Thanks to Peter and Cate, without whom etc etc. They know what I mean.