Henlow Wellington N3002

Royal Air Force Badge

Clop Hill, Henlow, Bedfordshire 28th July, 1940

S/Ldr R.H. Maw
P/O D.W.E. Sharpe
P/O E.H. G. Brooks
Sgt C.D. Chenier
Sgt A. Patterson
Sgt S.G. Keatley


Wellington 1A, N3002, took off from RAF Bassingbourne on a Nickelling operation using call sign 6RHO and making for Beauvais - Meaux - Melun - Evreux. On its return, the starboard engine failed and while trying to force-land at 03:05, the Wellington hit some trees on Clop Hill near Henlow, Bedfordshire. S/Ldr Maw sustained a double leg fracture while Sgt Chenier was treated for rib fractures. The others were seriously hurt. This was the first loss reported from an OTU engaged on leaflet dropping operations.

Details obtained from Aircraft lost on Allied Force’s Special Duty Operations & Associated Roll of Honour page 11.

There is an obituary for Squadron Leader, later Wing Commander, Roger Hargreaves Maw that seems as if it could be this pilot. This person was involved in the famous "Wooden Vaulting Horse" escape from Stalag Luft III in October 1943 during the war.

I have recently recieved a communication from Tim MacFadyen whose great-uncle was Squadron Leader Maw. He confirms that Maw was indeed the constructor of the famous "wooden horse" vaulting equipment used in the escape from Stalag Luft III. The story is very interesting; books about it written (most notably by Eric Williams) and a film was made in 1950. The escape was successful for three allied prisoners of war.

The later escape from this camp is known as "The Great Escape", and occurred in March 1944, in which some 76 men escaped from the camp. Just 3 managed to make their way to neutral territory, and of the 73 recaptured, 50 were murdered by the Gestapo by the direct order of Herr Hitler.

Squdron Leader Maw would afterwards relate that he was not sure whether he was most sorry for his leg that was broken, his Majesty's very expensive Wellington that was written off or the oak tree that had been minding its own business for 200 years that he had destroyed. He and his family wrote a book about his wartime exploits named "Wapitis, Wellingtons and Binderband". He died in August 1992 aged 86 years.

At this web site is a page dedicated to a Lancaster crash which lists as one of the crew S.G. Keatley, who may be the person in this Wellington crew. There is a pdf in detail about the crash, but it is in Dutch. As before, if anyone can confirm or not whether this person is the same, please let me know. This S.G.Keatley also became a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III.