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100 Sqn Lancaster MkIII ED-549 HW-S


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Updated: 26 Sep 12

100 Sqn had been based at RAF Grimsby (RAF Waltham) since 15 Dec 1942 and had been equipped with the Lancaster, originally Mk I, in Jan 1942.

On 5 Mar 1943, Lancaster Mk III ED-549 HW-S based at RAF Waltham crashed in the Vale of Belvoir, 1/4 mile from Plungar, near Langar airfield, where it was trying to land, with a loss of 6 crew.

The crash - 5 Mar 1943

Early on the morning of the 5 Mar 1943, Dennis Kirk was on air warden duty in Plungar when he heard the sound of an aircraft approaching. The Lancaster was returning to RAF Grimsby from a mine-laying mission over the French port of St Nazaire when it diverted to try to land at nearby Langar airfield because of poor weather.

The aircraft had already aborted two landings at other airfields due to heavy fog was only seconds away from a safe landing when it crashed 1/4 mile from Plungar, having overshot RAF Langar. Mr Kirk and his group rushed towards the scene to help but found only one, dazed survivor – Sergeant DS Davies – on the railway line.

"We heard the plane making queer noises, then it just went 'flop'. It was a bit of a shock because we had never seen anything like that before, seeing people killed on a plane. There were three lads at the front of the aircraft who had been thrown out. I'm the only one around still alive who saw it crash. It was a sad thing. I met the families and they were grateful to know that the plane didn't burn.

It appears that the pilot, towards the end of an eight-hour flight, was struggling to maintain height and control which was possibly indicative of battle damage. The post-crash investigation, typically carried out by the RAF in these circumstances, revealed a mechanical problem with the port inner engine.

The crew who died in the crash were:

Flight Sergeant GR Avey, RCAF Pilot
Flight Sergeant RR Landry
Sergeant BT Hallett
Sergeant AH Spence
Sergeant GD Cumberbatch
Sergeant J Robinson

The crew composition of two Canadians, a Barbadian and four British was not unusual for the bomber force during the war.

Memorial to ED-549

A memorial was unveiled to the crew on 22 Sep 2012 following a service at St Helen's Church, in Plungar, in the presence of relatives, RCAF representatives, and with a BBMF fly past.

The granite memorial which bears a plaque containing the names of the men who died , and Sgt Davies, was championed by a local military historian, Tim Chamberlain from Aslockton. He was moved by Dennis Kirk's desire to commemorate the lives of the six men who died and remember their sacrifice.

Nine members of pilot FS Avey's family attended the dedication service for the memorial, although sadly no relatives of any British crew members could be traced.

The memorialwhich was unveiled at St Helen's Church will be installed close to where the plane crashed so that the public can pay their respects.

Press coverage of the memorial's unveiling in September 2012:

> This Is Nottingham

> This is Leicestershire

> YouTube video of BBMF flypast

 

 

 

100 Sqn history on Hellzapoppin

100 Sqn Association

100 Sqn history on RAF website

100 Sqn Memorial Stone

Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire
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