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Air Force Casualties


          During the course of WWII aircraft were widely used by both the Allied and Axis forces and both opposing groups lost planes around Filey.


Dornier Do 217E

          The only known Axis aircraft to have been ‘downed’ around Filey was on 3rd February 1943 when the above type of aircraft crashed about half a mile south of Muston.  The crew had bailed out somewhere in Filey Bay as the aircraft was on a course inland.  None of the crew’s bodies were ever recovered and they are still ‘missing in action’ to this day.  The crew was under the command of Oberfuhrer Karl Muller, a decorated German Luftwaffe Officer (he was the recipient of the Ritterkreuz) with 280 successful missions to his credit.  Details are scant as to the reason for their trip over Filey but it can only be presumed to be on a raid towards Newcastle or the North East.



Wellington Bomber BK257 – 16th Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.), R.A.F.

          On the night of Saturday 10th October 1942 a Wellington bomber from one of the R.A.F.’s many training units crashed on a small plantation just outside Filey after stalling in mid air.  The 16th OT.U. were based in Thornaby in the North East and this was one of the many training flights that had set off on a navigation exercise the preceding afternoon.  The crew of BK257 had got lost in worsening weather conditions and it is thought that Ferguson, the pilot, dropped below the cloud to try to get a fix on their position.  Unfortunately when he realized that he was too low he pulled up too fast and through lack of experience stalled the plane whilst trying to climb too quickly. BK257’s young crew were wiped out in an instant and Filey authorities were left to pick up the pieces. 

          Much of the large remains of the aircraft were taken away shortly after the crash, but most of the small debris was left where it can still be found today.  Three of the Wellington’s crew were laid to rest in a quiet corner of St. Oswald’s churchyard and were given official war graves whilst the other two were repatriated to their home towns. 

The crew were:

John Ferguson (Sergeant / Pilot) – Aged 26.  A young R.A.F. recruit from Oxted in Surrey, John was the son of John and Marion Ferguson.  After the crash he was interred in Limpsfield (St. Peter’s) Cemetery, Surrey.

John Anthony Fox (Sergeant / Bomb Aimer) – A volunteer to the R.A.F.V.R. (Volunteer Reserve) John was from Streatham near    Wandsworth.  He was interred there after the crash.  Unfortunately, no details are known about his family.

Robert George Macdonald (Sergeant / Navigator) – Aged 33.  The oldest of the crew, Robert was a volunteer like John Fox and a member of the R.A.F.V.R.  He originated from a village called Bevere in Worcestershire where he was married to Kathleen; his parents George and Sarah were also not far away.  Unlike the other two British crew Robert was buried in St. Oswald’s churchyard.

Donald Roy Robertson (Flight Sergeant/ Wireless Operator) – Aged 21.  The first of two Canadian airmen aboard the Wellington, Donald had enlisted into the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) in his home town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the heart of Canada.  He was the son of Roy and Myrtle Robertson and was laid to rest in St. Oswald’s, having never seen action in the war he had volunteered to come and fight in.

Bruce Harry Sparrow (Sergeant / Rear Gunner) – Aged 20.  The ‘baby’ of the crew, Bruce was another airman of the R.C.A.F. and originated from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  He was the son of George and Flora Sparrow.  Again he is buried in St. Oswald’s and never saw action in the war.


Beaufighter143 Squadron (R.A.F.)

          On the afternoon of Sunday 23rd April 1944 a Beaufighter of 143 Squadron crashed on Flixton Wold killing both of its crew.  Beaufighters were extremely flexible aircraft used towards the end of the war in both fighter and bomber roles and contained a crew of two, normally a pilot and a navigator / bombardier.  The aircraft in question was from a base in Harrogate on a routine flight when for an unknown reason the aircraft nose dived and crashed.  The two crewmen were:

Robert Agnew (Flight Lieutenant) – Aged 29.  An Australian of the Royal Australian Air Force (R.A.A.F.) native to Queensland, Robert was married to Edna and the son of James and Jennie Agnew.  He was buried in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery.

Harold Benjamin Blackwell (Flight Sergeant) – Aged 22.  An airman of the R.A.F.V.R. Harold was from Wrexham, where he was to be interred after his fatal accident.  He was the son of John and Martha Blackwell.


William John Crudge (Aircraftsman Second Class) – Aged 19

          One of two ground crew fatalities in the Filey area William was stationed at the R.A.F. base at Primrose Valley at the same time as Private Stanley Bennett and Private Albert Izaby (see Army records).  He was killed on Wednesday 16th April 1941 in an ‘accidental explosion’ (this is the verdict recorded by the Filey coroner – no other details are known).  He was originally from Paignton and was the son of William and Gertrude Crudge; this is where his body was buried.


Wilfred Octavius Dawns (Aircraftsman Second Class) – Aged 24


          An intriguing ground crew casualty, Wilfred died of Pneumonia on Wednesday 17th December 1945 whilst serving at R.A.F. Bempton.  Technically, his was not a war time death but he was certainly in the area on ‘war business’; his parents Zechariah and Ellen Dawns’ home address is shown George’s Plain, Jamaica.  He was also a member of the R.A.F.’s West Indies division showing that he had travelled a long way to serve King and Country.  He was buried in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery.


James Brown Fowler (Warrant Officer First Class) – Aged 33

          The only R.A.F. casualty to die around Filey whilst not engaged on ‘official’ business James drowned at Hunmanby Gap on Wednesday 16th February 1944 whilst on leave.  The Filey coroner recorded a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ for the Canadian serviceman who was the son of Joseph and Mary Fowler.

          James was an Air Observer of 78 Squadron, R.C.A.F. and was buried in Blantyre cemetery, Lanarkshire.


Samuel George Glen (Corporal) – Aged 29

          A member of 2792 Squadron, R.A.F.V.R., Samuel was training at the R.A.F. camp near Primrose Valley when he was killed on Sunday 12th April 1942 in an accidental mine explosion.  He was originally from Preston where he was later buried (in New Hall Lane Cemetery) and was the son of Samuel and Maria Glen.  He was married to Mary.


John Raymond Jeudwine (Group Captain) – Aged 32

          The most decorated R.A.F. serviceman in this section, John was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.), the Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M.) and an O.B.E.  He was the son of Wilfred and Mabel Jeudwine of Glinton, Northamptonshire but had lived in Filey all his adult life up until enlisting in 1939.

          John died on Friday 19th October 1945 at Cambridge Hospital of wounds received in the field and was laid to rest in Cambridge City Cemetery.