Personnel Index - Detail

Name
PETCH
First Names
John William
Rank
F/Sgt
Service
RAF
Service Number
1087217
Crew Position
Wireless Operator
Age
24
Date of Death
22/04/1945
Cemetery

 

Photographed by Malcolm Brooke


 



Medals courtesy of Maurice Clapham
 

THE FULBECK TRAGEDY:

It happened shortly before 10.00hrs on that fateful Sunday morning of April 22nd, as 49 Squadron's Lancasters were taking off from Fulbeck for the last time, bound for their new home at RAF Syerston. Some aircraft had already departed, but just as F/Lt Les Hammond was about to release the brakes on B-Baker he suddenly announced over the inter-com; 'so that's how a Lanc goes!' - his crew immediately looked in the direction of the main site where a pillar of fire and smoke marked the spot where a Lancaster had just plunged into the ground.

Eric Read was an eyewitness to this ghastly accident:
"I had just left Flying Control and saw the whole thing as if in slow motion - the aircraft was shooting up' Fulbeck and was very low; it came from my right (heading north) and as the pilot pulled up, the tail hit the MT shed, bringing the aircraft down onto a large group of ground personnel.
The clothing store was demolished along with the private car belonging to S/Ldr Brydon. The fire crew was there in seconds but to no avail; I was asked to give evidence at the court of enquiry; it was all very sad and a long time ago, but some of the shocking images still remain in my memory."

The aircraft involved was piloted by F/O George Elkington (PB463), who hailed from Tonbridge in Kent. There were five other crew members onboard, and all were killed. The absent crew member was mid upper gunner, F/Sgt Logan, who must have considered himself to be the luckiest man alive that day.
The unfortunate ground staff who were killed, all belonged to 5015 Works Flight; it is believed they were on parade at the time.
 

Lancaster PB463 (EA-Y)
F/O G.F. Elkington Pilot
F/S C.I. Walker F/E
F/S L.W. Evans NAV
F/S J.W. Petch W/OP
F/O H. Macaulay A/B
F/S M.J.C. Garrett P/A/G