Potton Stirling LK236

Location: Potton, Bedfordshire 14th February, 1945

F/O Eric Timperley RAFVR - Pilot
F/Sgt Peter Norman Carr RAFVR - Navigator
Sgt William George Cornish RAFVR - Gunner
Sgt Peter Norman Ellis RAFVR - Gunner
Sgt Derrick Howard Mayers RAFVR - Flight Engineer
F/Sgt Cyril William Saunders RAAF - Wireless Operator
F/O George Colin Wiggins RAAF - Air Bomber

Please note the links to Cambridge City Cemetary for Saunders and Wiggins as of February 2019 appear to be broken. I shall attempt to locate the new addresses for these images as soon as possible.

Short Brothers Stirling LK236. Date unknown circa Winter 1944/5, location probably RAF Tempsford.

This is an image of the actual aircraft involved in this incident. It was taken over Christmas 1944 at RAF Tempsford. The crew standing left to right are: 1) Flight Sergeant Ellis, RAFVR; 2) Flight Sergeant Saunders, RAAF; 3) Flight Sergeant Carr, RAFVR; 4) Flight Officer Timperley, RAFVR; 5) Unknown; 6) Flight Officer Wiggins, RAAF; 7) Unknown. The image is used with the permission of Potton History Society. The two remaining unknowns will be Sergeants Cornish and Mayers.

The crash was caused by a collision with a Mustang. The Stirling Mk IV, LK236, MA-Y was on a local training flight in poor visibility when it supposedly received a "dummy attack" when attempting to land at Tempsford by a P51B Mustang 42-106448 from 383 FS 364 FG, USAAF. It is supposed in some quarters that the Mustang pilot, F/O T.W. Kiley, either simply lost control, or in the poor weather misjudged the distance, and hit the tail of the Stirling. However, in my opinion, a much more likely explanation is that the Mustang developed a fault which caused it to dive into the Stirling, or the pilot was perhaps trying to make an emergency landing at Tempsford itself and was unable to reach the base, again the Stirling being unfortunately just in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were no survivors from either aircraft who could say for certain what happened. The Stirling crashed at Potton 3 miles east of Sandy, Bedfordshire. The exact position is not certain, but is confused in some sources with the position given for Potton Stirling LK207.

See the web-site for a special memorial to the crew of LK236 by the St. Swithun's VC Lower School, Sandy School members.

Details obtained from Aircraft lost on Allied Force’s Special Duty Operations & Associated Roll of Honour page 481.

Flight Sergeant P.N.Ellis, RAFVR Flight Sergeant P.N.Carr, RAFVR Flight Sergeant C.W.Saunders, RAAF Flight Officer G.C.Wiggins, RAAF

Flight Sergeant P.N.Ellis, RAFVR

Flight Sergeant P.N.Carr, RAFVR

Flight Sergeant C.W.Saunders, RAAF

Flight Officer G.C.Wiggins, RAAF

Click on any image for a larger version. The images for Flight Sergeants Carr and Saunders, and for Flight Officer Wiggins, were obtained from the Potton History Society, and are reproduced here with their kind permission. If any family member would rather I remove an image, contact me and I'll do so immediately. The image of Flight Sergeant Ellis was provided by his neice Sue Heath via a contact Bob Henderson. Sergeant Ellis, 1817434, is buried at Cambridge City Cemetery, Plot no 15517.

Click on this link to view a map of the west side of Potton, showing where the two planes LK207 and LK236 fell - in MY interpretation! Being so close together in distance, and only some 4 months in time, it is understandable for memories to become confused between them. The smaller circles show where some parts of the wreckage fell. Here are my reasons for where they are located:

LK236 - The location of a piece of wreckage in the front garden of a house on the south side of the B1042 Potton to Sandy road shown by the green circle is fairly confident. I have been in contact with a gentleman who was a lad at the time, and who cycled to Potton from Moggerhanger to look at the crash, and drew a sketch of the rear turret of the Stirling in the garden. A little while ago, he promised to post me a photocopy of his sketches, which would provide excellent evidence, but I haven't received anything in a while, so I will need to contact him again. The only snippet of information about the main wreckage is that it was "near Deepdale", so this location is much more speculative. My gentleman friend is insistent the turret he sketched was from the Stirling that collided with a Mustang, which was LK236, so he is adamant it is not part of LK207. Obviously, at the time, he would not have known the plane's identification details.

Potton resident Mr. John Boston, who has shared his memories of the LK207 accident with me, recalls this Stirling LK236 falling on the Potton side of where now is the Sandy Heath Television Transmitter Aerial.

Potton History Society have images of three crew members: Flight Sergeant C.W. Saunders R.A.A.F; Flight Sergeant P.N. Carr R.A.F (VR); Flying Officer G.C. Wiggins R.A.A.F. They include family details. There is also a photograph of the actual plane and the entire crew, presumably at RAF Tempsford, earlier in the war. The full set of 5 image identifications are: "146-04-dnopx-1945.jpg" (plane & crew); "146-05-dnopx-1945.jpg" (Saunders); "146-06-dnopx-1945.jpg" and "146-07-dnopxy.jpg" (Wiggins); "146-08-cdnopxz.jpg" (Carr).

This was a desperately sad accident, costing the lives of eight brave young men, from Australia, the United States, and Great Britain. May they all rest in peace.