Lancaster PB366 (24/12/1944)

Lancaster PB366 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Nippes Marshalling Yard (Cologne) on the afternoon of 24th December 1944.

It was carrying 8 x 1000lb MC, 4 x 500lb GP and 4 x 500lb ANM.64. Its designated Path Finder role was Supporter

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Arthur Thomas Kenyon (Pilot)
  • Albert Thomas (Navigator)
  • Alec Henry Cousins (Air Bomber)
  • Cecil Leonard Blundell (Wireless Operator)
  • Cyril Arthur Winter (Air Gunner)
  • Roy Frederick Arthur Yallop (Air Gunner)
  • Leonard Williams (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft crashed after taking off. All members of the crew were killed”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s records show the following burial details:

  • BLUNDELL, Cecil Leonard, Flight Sergeant ‘1602657’ Southampton (Hollybrook) Cemetery Sec. M. 12. Grave 41.
  • COUSINS, Alec Henry, Flight Sergeant ‘1321669’ Maidenhead Cemetery Sec. C.C. Row W. Grave 30.
  • KENYON, Arthur Thomas, Flying Officer ‘185554’ Prestwich (St. Mary) Churchyard Clough Sec. 3. Row 6. Grave 83.
  • THOMAS, Albert, Sergeant ‘1652801’ Ystalyfera (St. David) Church Burial Ground, Llangiwg
  • WILLIAMS, Leonard, Sergeant ‘1095530’ Staveley Cemetery Sec. K.K. Grave 30.
  • WINTER, Cyril Arthur, Sergeant ‘1614511’ Harlington (Cherry Lane) Cemetery Sec. C.3. Grave C.17.
  • YALLOP, Roy Frederick Arthur, Sergeant ‘1356347’ Ipswich Old Cemetery Sec. C. Div. 31. Grave 63.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

RAF Graveley ORB

Lancaster PB366 crashed on take off at Low Farm, Paxton about 1/2 mile south of the aerodrome. All members of the crew were killed as a result of multiple injuries and burns.

AM Form 1180

Pilot lost control on take off while in fog conditions due to faulty instrument flying; aircraft caught fire on impact with trees

Extract from some notes made by DR Garner [Courtesy of Paul Herod]

It was Christmas Eve of 1944 as I recall and on this particular day I was NCO in charge of the Crash Guard (a group of airmen & NCO sent to guard any type of crash, friend or foe, in the immediate area).

I had been doing my usual spell of bomb loading on Lancasters until 16.00 hours. However just after 16.00 hours, we were called out to stand guard on one of our planes that had crashed just after take off. With six airmen I went to the scene of the crash which was in the village of Paxton on the Offord- St.Neots road (I have since learned that this was LOW FARM, Gt.Paxton.)

The plane, with seven crew and full bomb load, struck a house top beyond the end of the runway, which caused the Lancaster to crash into a row of tall trees (only one remains now). This smashed the wings off, the bombs were catapulted from the bomb bay and most rolled into a ditch running parallel to the roadway with one exception which rolled towards the farmhouse, hitting the wall of the bathroom, which was on the corner, at ground level.

The farmer’s wife (Mrs Edwards) was in the bathroom at the time but when I arrived, maybe seven or eight minutes after the crash, she was in her dressing gown, by the phone. It was impossible to do anything as the plane was on fire.

We were billeted at the farmhouse until such time as the crashed plane, crew and bombs were removed.

Eyewitness Accounts [Courtesy of Paul Herod]

An eyewitness (Mr John Hard) recalled that the aircraft clipped the trees at “three corner field” and lost its rear turret, before hitting the roof of Mr and Mrs King’s house. It then cartwheeled across the field, before hitting the elm trees, forcing the bombs to jettison towards the road and Low Farm.

Despite the efforts of the local community, the inferno meant that the crew members could not be saved

Crew Information

The following link provides information on AT Kenyon’s operational sorties as Captain of a No. 35 Squadron aircraft and the composition of his crew on these sorties


Notes:

  1. The Air Historical Branch has confirmed that FIDO was in operation when the aircraft took off.