On the 28th of May 1945, at 14:20 hours a Wellington bomber Piloted by 23 year old W/O Edward Cyril Cole of Kingswood Surrey took off from Turweston airfield on a training flight. On board were Navigator Sgt. James Mann, Bomb Aimer F/Sgt Arther Griffiths aged 32, Wireless Operator Sgt. John Duncan aged 21 and Air Gunner Sgt. Herbert Rawnsley 25.
They became lost in thick cloud and reducing height to try to locate their position they struck the ground at Bycliffe near Coniston moor at 15:50 hrs, narrowly missing an isolated farmhouse. All were killed instantly.
Little remains now of the crash site, and very few people know about it. It is extremely hard to find, not being visible from the nearest path which is about 100 metres away and it lies on boggy marshland so there is no reason to walk there. It also lies next to a high wall so unless you peer over the wall you won’t see it, and to my knowledge it isn’t shown on any maps.
There is little to show for the crash – just a few mounds of earth and a few bits of aluminium and steel. After the crash the MOD would have removed the bodies and the main wreckage would be sold as scrap. The last 70 years have obliterated most of what was left.
I first discovered the crash site about 25 years ago. It lies in limestone country and I was ‘cave hunting’ when I came across it. I initially thought it was from a light aircraft – perhaps a Cessna or something. I spent quite a bit of time researching as I was intrigued and I discovered that there are dozens and dozens of crash sites in the Dales and Lake District. I have visited many of these – but sadly little remains at most of them – usually just a shallow crater in the earth with maybe a few bits of metal scattered around. Most are very hard to find and are usually in remote areas.
Usually the crew were killed outright but occasionally a member would stagger free and go for help – and I will write about one of these in a later post. It is a fascinating story.
So over the coming years the remains of most of these wrecks will slowly disappear into the earth (or peoples sheds) and they will be forgotten forever. A sad loss.
W/O Edward Cyril Cole RAFVR (1445279) is buried at Stonefall Cemetery, Harrogate.
Sgt James Mann RAFVR (1810780) is buried at Bells Hill Burial ground, Hertfordshire.
F/Sgt Arthur John Griffiths RAF(AAF) (859551 is buried Kimbolton Churchyard, Herefordshire.
Sgt John Duncan RAFVR (1826025) is buried at Piershill Cemetery, Edinburgh.
Sgt Herbert Henry Rawnsley RAF(AAF) (809198) is buried at Burmantofts Cemetery, Leeds. Yorkshire.