Wellington Mk.IC L7811 / OJ-C of No.149, crashed into Lathkill Dale at Conksbury Bridge on the 12th February 1941 while returning to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk from a raid against Bremen
|Harold George Turner||Sergeant||Pilot||Survived|
|Colin Francis Campbell||Sergeant||Co-pilot||Survived|
|James Bernard McKnight||Sergeant||Observer||Survived|
|Harold George Pates||Sergeant||Wireless Operator||Survived|
|Derek Owen Piper||Sergeant||Air Gunner||Survived|
|George Rae||Sergeant||Air Gunner||Survived|
The aircraft from 149 Squadron, piloted by Sgt Turner, had taken part in a raid against the German city of Breman, home of Mercedes Benz, during the night of the 11th / 12th February 1941 along with aircraft from several other RAF squadrons. On returning to Britain the crew could not locate their base at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. The same appeared to be true for many of the other aircraft that night as a total of 16 were seriously damaged or written off on returning to the UK with the loss of 7 lives, while none were lost to enemy action. The aircraft ended up some 100 miles north of Mildenhall and with its fuel tanks virtually empty the crew bailed out, coming down close to Haddon Hall near Bakewell. The aircraft however, flew on for a short distance before diving into Lathkill Dale near Conksbury Bridge. The aircraft clipped some trees on the edge of the limestone gorge before plunging into the river. During the 1980s members of M.H.A.S. had been told of airmen landing in that area by parachute but had not been able to locate where the aircraft they had been flying had crashed.
The aircraft’s crew all returned to service but were split up as a crew, their pilot was killed on the 27th July 1941 while flying Hampden P1162 of the Central Gunnery School which crashed shortly after taking off from RAF Castle Kennedy near Stranraer, he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sgt McKnight was killed while aboard Stirling Mk.III EF232 of No.1660 Heavy Conversion Unit. The aircraft crashed at Carlton-le-Moorland near Lincoln while flying from RAF Swinderby. He is buried at Newark-on-Trent cemetery.