Crash Wellington Moëlan-sur-Mer

Memorial within the communal cemetery paying tribute to the crew of the Wellington of the 166 Squadron of the Royal Air Force shot down by the FLAK on April 3, 1943 on a mine-wetting mission

★ Sergeant Arthur H. Radbourne. Pilot, 21, deceased.
<★ SergeantEric W.Aldridge. Observer and machine gunner, 32, deceased.
★ Sergeant Thomas Henry Luscombe. Machine gunner, 22 years old, deceased.
★ Sergeant Wallace Carter. Navigator, deceased.
★ Sergeant Jack Stock. Radio, deceased.

Sergeant Arthur Henry RADBOURNE was killed during a night mission of mining off our coast at the age of 21, on April 3, 1943, along with his four crewmen, Sergeants: Eric-William ALDRIDGE, 32 years old Thomas Henry LUSCOMBE, 22 years old Wallace CARTER (age unknown) Jack STOCK , 23 years old Aboard the bomber Vickers-Wellington X HS 631
Thursday April 3, 1943, Kirmington air base in Lincolnshire, on the east coast of England. A formation of 8 bombers takes off in the evening with the objective of dropping submarine mines in the Lorient-Groix channel, on the route of German submarines.
During this night mission, the German FLAK is active. The bomber is spotted, strafed. The die is cast, the plane and its crew are lost. We'll never know under what conditions the young man fell overboard. According to the official version, he died of hypothermia. But according to the testimony of the fishermen who brought his body to shore, he died of internal haemorrhage. On the other hand, the bodies of his four crewmates have never been found.
The following day, Friday, Joseph LE TORREC and his crew, aboard the fishing boat "l'Ange. Gardien", find the body of the young pilot. They are 20 miles from the Port of Brigneau, their home port. Arthur Radbourne's watch, stopped at 11pm, indicates that his body had drifted in the currents coming from Groix for 12 hours, held at the surface by his life jacket.
Back at the Port, the occupying forces seized the body, placed it under guard and ordered Joseph Le Torrec to organize a discreet burial. In reality, however, a large and appreciative crowd prepared to pay their last respects to the young aviator.
On the day of the funeral, infuriated by the defiance of the Moelan people, the Germans refused to hand over the coffin and dispersed the crowd by firing shots into the air. A Protestant German military chaplain will ensure the burial of Sergeant Arthur Henry Radbourne a day later, without witnesses, after however paying him military honors.
After the war, Sergeant Radbourne's grave was honored and revered by those who witnessed the tragedy first-hand. The family of Joseph Le Torrec and that of Marie Scavennec (the Headmistress of Brigneau School) had contact with Sergeant Radboume's family in London for some years.
Then, due to the disappearance of these witnesses, as well as the concealed location of the grave, it gradually slipped into oblivion.
It was in 2012, 69 years later:thanks to the first visit of one of Sergeant Radbourne's nephews, Trevor JONES and his wife Patricia, now based in Australia, that this grave regained its place in the History and Memory of the Moelanais.
The Municipality of Moélan-sur-Mer warmly received the JONES family and organized a very moving ceremony on September 6, 2012, just two months after the inauguration in London by Queen Elizabeth II of the impressive Memorial to Bomber Command, erected to the glory of the aviators who fell during the World War II.
History reminded us of our duty of gratitude in view of the scale of the human losses suffered by Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries during the World War II.
Beyond these five heroes, this tribute is addressed to the 55,573 British and Allied airmen of the "Volunteer Reserve" of Bomber Command, who sacrificed their young lives (average age 22) to liberate France and Europe from Nazi tyranny.
Philippe Boudot photo credit

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