Holyhead – Halifax Bomber Crash War Memorials

A Halifax MKII aeroplane number BB275 took off from R.A.F. Leeming in North Yorkshire on a training flight, when one of the engines cut out. The Halifax from 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit sadly stalled, and crashed into the mud near Four Mile Bridge on Anglesey, North Wales. The aircraft had been trying to reach the safety of R.A.F. Valley but was just a mile or so short. The five Royal Canadian Air Force and three Royal Air Force crew on the Halifax were killed on impact.

The Board of Inquiry concluded that the crash was caused by a mishandling of the fuel system due to the extensive work pressure that the crew were under.

The MK II Halifax was also known to have dangerous handling problems caused by overbalance to the rudder during landing and in certain manoeuvres, and the crash might be attributed to either of these problems. The Rolls Royce Merlin engine was also known to have technical problems, and this may also have caused or contributed to the crash.

Out of interest, an aircraft of this type crashed near Ross in Herefordshire with the loss of the total H2S Radar Development Team.

The names of the crew are listed below:
Pilot – Warrant Officer 2 – Joseph Gaspard Arsenault
Navigator – Flight Sergeant – David Clayton Carder
Flight Engineer – Sergeant – Peder Larsen
Air Gunner – Sergeant – Harvey Frank Gorrie
Air Gunner – Flight Sergeant – John Louis Boivin
Navigator – Sergeant – Alan Bayne Wedderspoon
Bomb Aimer – Sergeant – James Barrie Diggle George
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner – Sergeant – Thomas Herbert Clapham

I guess because five of the crew were Canadian it would not be possible to repatriate the bodies at a time of war, so they were buried in Holyhead. Three were buried in St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery and the other two at Maeshyfryd Cemetery. The three R.A.F. crew were repatriated to their home towns and either buried or cremated.

One of the Air Gunners – John Louis Boivin – had only married a number of hours before, making Angela Churchill his bride and widow in just a couple of days.

After the crash, Soren Larsen, who was the brother of the flight engineer – Peder Larsen – was introduced to Marjorie, who was the sister of Tom Clapham the Wireless Operator. They started dating and married in 1945. In 1947 Marjorie gave birth to a little boy who they named Tom. Tom grew up and married Gracie, and they now have two sons, Richard born in 1977 and Ian born in 1982. I am grateful to Ian for rounding this story off for us, and for the photograph of Tom Clapham’s grave in Manchester.

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