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Looking for Bentley RCAF member’s family

In 1944, a Wellington bomber exploded over our small English village in Northamptonshire killing all six RCAF personnel on board. Roade Local History Society are concerned that few people in the village know of this event. They would like to erect a plaque honouring the six young Canadians who died so far from home. We do not want their sacrifice to be forgotten.

One of our members saw the debris falling from the sky. She was seven years old at the time. It was a gloomy, thundery, dark foreboding late afternoon. She and her brother were playing shove-ha’penny on the window ledge and looking out directly over the field where some of the debris fell. Suddenly, the sky was full of falling debris and then came the deafening bang. Her father, who had experienced bombs falling in the London Blitz, thought it was a buzz bomb and the family dived beneath the table.

However, when it became apparent that the village was not under enemy attack, father and son ran over the field to see what they could do to help. The remains of the aircraft were spread over a wide area.

The Wellington HF641 of 22 OTU had taken off on a navigational exercise from Wellesbourne, Mountford, Warwickshire, on Thursday, June 29, 1944 at 1:35 p.m. Over Roade, at 5:20, the plane was struck by lightning and disintegrated.

The men who died were:

l F/O Robert J. Andrews, 21 years, J27301 RCAF, pilot, from Toronto, Ont

l P/O Charles E. Stephen, 30 years, J36296 RCAF, from Montreal, Que., and the only married man.

l F/O Paul W. Tokar, 22 years, J27116 RCAF from Fenwick, Ont.

l Sgt. William H. Clark, 22 years, R193583 RCAF, from Washago, Ont..

l Sgt. Allan H. MacKimmie, 18 years, R260780 RCAF from Port Colquitam, B.C.

l Sgt. John B. Sollie, 23 years, R150594 RCAF from Bentley, Alta.

The all-Canadian crew were interred at Brookwood Cemetery, near Pirbright, Surrey, England.

In addition to the plaque, we hope to keep a fuller account of this tragic incident in our archives, giving more details about the men. We have their names and ages but would also like to know more about them.

We would like to be able to trace relatives, friends or obtain other information that would help us remember them as people rather than just names on a plaque.

Can anyone help us please?

Ron Johnson

Project Lead — Roade Local History Society

ronjohnson1951@hotmail.com

Phone: 00-44-1604-861458

 
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