Last year, the Centenary of the formation of the RAF, it was put to the local branch of the Royal British Legion, that it would be fitting to have a memorial for the Lancaster Bomber and her crew which came down in Chatteris during WW2. This particular crash happened in the vicinity of the Jacks/Poundstretcher stores. Following several months of research, it was discovered that there were, in fact, a total of three confirmed aircraft that came down within the boundaries of Chatteris. The Lancaster, a Wellington and a Blenheim. Others have been suggested, but require further research. A committee has been put together, with representatives from the RBL, Town Council, Fenland District Council, Chatteris Rotary, Metalcraft, Chatteris Museum, Community Archive and other interested parties, to create a lasting Memorial for those aircraft and airman who came down in our town. Plans are already well under way and grants are being sourced from various bodies, however, the construction and maintenance of this project, which marks an important part of our local history, is not going to come cheap... Therefore, we are looking to the community to support with this project and help raise the money needed to create a lasting legacy and another mark of Remembrance - something This town excels at. The sooner the funds are raised, the sooner we can commence & move forward with the next stages. Photograph credit: Lancaster Bomber over Chatteris, with thanks to Chatteris Community Archive.
We have now secured a grant of £2000, so are well on the way to funding this project, but we still need more support.
I can now add further details about the aircraft that the memorial will be commemorating:
On the 26th of February 1945 Lancaster ME450 AA-W crashed on its return from a raid on Dortmund. The aircraft returned with the rest of the Squadron and was seen flying in formation over Mepal, but for some unknown reason crashed soon after, very close to Chatteris gasworks. The crash killed 5 of the 7 crew. The Navigator and Air Bomber, Sgt George William McManus (RAFVR 1806217) and F/S Joseph McKenzie Alfred (RAFVR 1810280), respectively lay in Cambridge Cemetery. The crew’s Pilot, F/O Noel Humphrey Thorpe (RNZAF NZ428168) lays in Ilford (Barkingside) Cemetery, Essex, Sgt Frederick Henry Saffill (RAFVR 1882066) the Mid Upper Gunner, rests in Maldon Cemetery, Essex and the Flight Engineer, Sgt John Lawrence Duke (RAFVR 2210530), who was only 19 is buried at Stockport Crematorium, having succumbed to his injuries 2 days after the crash.
Wellington Mk 1C, R1767 from 25 Operational Training Unit, RAF Finningley crashed whilst on a Night Navigation Exercise. Pilot - Flying Officer Joshua Stephen Willis (Died 10/09/41)
A Searchlight illuminated the aircraft which crashed into the ground at Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. The searchlight was located in a field off New Road Chatteris, now a housing estate across the road from Glebelands Primary School.
12 JULY 1941 Blenheim MK IV, Z6360 17 Operational Training Unit (OTU) RAF Upwood
Take off from RAF Wyton to practice landings with wireless assistance. Lost control and failed to recover from a spin before crashing 1545 at Old Halves, near Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
Other research is still ongoing with support from the RAFA
- Raymond Francis
- Mark Burton
- Paula Knott
- Ian Ellis
- Simon Sommerville