Collision 51 / 158 Sqn
- Created: 09 May 2014
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On April 18th 1944 over the village of Ly-Fontaine in France two MK III Halifaxes one from RAF Lissett and another from RAF Snaith collided, all 14 crew perished in the tragerdy.
Halifax LW522 (coded MH-J) of 51 Sqdn & Halifax LV946 (coded NP-K) of 158 Sqdn both took part at the Operation on Tergnier's marshalling yard 18/19th April 1944.
Both aircrafts collided after the bomb run, but not sure as witnesses said that when they collided causing a big explosion in air.
51 Sqdn. Halifax LW522 MH-J
Sgt. Colin Shackleton Pilot 1398483 Age 21
Sgt. Charles Christie Flight Engineer 1049057 Age 21
F/S Eric O.D. Yorke Navigator 1439296 Age 21
Sgt. Desmond W. Kennedy Air Bomber 1620864 Age 20
Sgt. Philip Latchford W.Op/Air Gnr 1038622 Age 23
Sgt. William J. Gilchrist Air Gunner 1824389 Age 26
F/S Fred Taylor Air Gunner 1549593 Age 32
158 Sqdn. Halifax LV946 NP-K
F/O William A. Hughes RCAF Pilot J/14859 Age 31
Sgt. Owen M. Brown Flight Engineer 1822937 Age 19
F/S Frank Salmond Navigator 657616 Age 28
F/O Bertram A. Trewin RCAF Air Bomber J/25701 Age ?
W/O James A. Leaver RAAF W.Op/Air Gnr 412455 Age 22
F/S James Heyes Air Gunner 547937 Age ?
F/O Ronald Stakes Air Gunner 132016 Age 23
Reports from Ly-Fontaine (Aisne) France indicate that Halifax LV946 had crashed there at 23:34 hours of April 18, 1944. The Germans authorities took away the bodies of the members of the crew as well as their personal effects. However, the report also indicated that local individuals had retrieved a “wrist-watch” and a “gold ring” from the crash site. The bodies were later turned over by the Germans to the Mayor of Seraucourt le Grand who arranged for the burial of the bodies in the local cemetery on April 21, 1944. However, another report, from Mr. Charles Voyeux, Mayor of Seraucourt le Grand, indicated that the bodies of the crew members were buried in the “..Seraucourt le Grand British Cemetery on June 3, 1944.”
Although both Squadrons listed each bomber carrying a crew of 7 for a total of 14 airmen, it appears that actually 15 bodies were recovered from the crash site. Later an RAF investigation officer (Feb. 26, 1945) made the assumption that ”…someone stole a ride on that trip, probably Sergeant Kemady.” It was presumed that this individual must have been from 51 Squadron.
Recently the community of Ly-Fontaine in France held a special ceremony to unveil a memorial to the crews of two Halifax bombers.
Pilot William A. Hughes RCAF personal card and head stone
Thanks to Chuck Tolley for info/pictures