The project has dedicated the forward fuselage to the crew of Stirling Mk3 EE944, as a result of a hugely generous donation from the sister of the pilot who was killed on 5th March 1944 in the crash detailed below. The donation was made directly to the Bomber Command Association, which then looked for a fitting place for some of the generous donation to be used.
Here is Dave Richardson's current research on the crew of EE944 on that fateful day
The research on the crew of EE944 is almost complete. There is one final piece of the jigsaw missing at the moment. The MOD are having difficulty locating the NCO part of the pilot’s, Elwyn Edwards, service record. Otherwise, all the details of the other crew members are to hand. The six members of the crew that are pictured here have all now been identified. The one missing crew member, is Bernard Denness who was commissioned in 1942. Why he’s missing from the photo we’ll never know.
The crew came together at 1657 Conversion Unit prior to being posted to 218 Squadron in
September 1943. We’ve been able to track all the operations they flew on through the Squadron
Operational Record Books and the flying log of one of the survivors, Don Meredith. Don also kept a personal diary and his son has generously transcribed the entry for the final operation and allowed us to use it. It adds a bit more to the official record which doesn’t go into details about the engine failure. According the Don’s diary the damage to the engine was caused by flak as they crossed the coast of France on the outbound leg of the operation. By the time they’d got past Paris it was clear that they were losing a lot of fuel and the pilot decided to turn back. Why they didn’t land at an airfield closer to the Channel is a bit of a mystery. The aircraft was on a Special Duty Op for the SOE.
It’s suggested in Don’s diary that all aircraft on such ops had to land at their base station, in the case, RAF Tempsford. Any deviation from this would result in a court martial. It’s proving difficult to get much detailed information about SOE Operations. They made it back to Tempsford but were told by the Control Tower that they were coming in too high and to go round again. The Flight Engineer, Ernie Vampough, was urging the pilot to put the aircraft down immediately. Presumably he thought they had insufficient fuel for another circuit. The pilot followed the control tower instructions and tried to pull up to go round again. The aircraft side-slipped and the wing caught in the ground bringing the aircraft down. There were only two survivors, Meredith and Porter. Both continued to serve in the RAF and survived the war. Porter was commissioned in September 1944 and left the RAF in 1946. Meredith remained a Sergeant Air Gunner and left the RAF in December 1946.
Most of this information wouldn’t have been obtained but for the generosity of the families of the crew and the work of the RAF Disclosures Office so we’re grateful to them for all their help and assistance.
David A. Richardson