View Full Version : Bombay I loss - 17 June 1940

Andy Saunders
4th April 2008, 08:55
On 17 June 1940 Bombay L5852 hit a hill at East Dean, West Sussex, and crashed killing five members of 24 Squadron:

F/O C O Murphy
P/O H E Large
LAC E Wragg
LAC L Bradburn
LAC W A Harper

However, the aircraft is shown as a 271 Squadron machine, attached from 216 Squadron. Were the 24 Squadron guys just passengers? If so, were there others on board from 271 Squadron? (216 Sqn were in the Middle East )That being so, were there other casualties or did they survive and who were they? The ORB for 24 Squadron makes no mention of the event.

B.F.M. Droog
4th April 2008, 10:34
Hello Andy,

This is what I got:

These five airmen's deaths are registered at Chichester:

Aircraftman 1st Class Leonard Bradburn (http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2723905), RAF 550047, 24 Sqdn., age 21, 17/06/1940, Tangmere (St. Andrew) Churchyard (http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=2073877&mode=1), UK
Leading Aircraftman Wilfred A. Harper (http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2723915), RAF 540221, 24 Sqdn., age 23, 17/06/1940, Tangmere (St. Andrew) Churchyard, UK
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Hedley E. Large (http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2723924), RAF 41795, 24 Sqdn., age 23, 17/06/1940, Tangmere (St. Andrew) Churchyard, UK
Flying Officer (Pilot) Colman O. Murphy (http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2723033), RAF 39892 (Ireland), 24 Sqdn., age 27, 17/06/1940, Chichester Cemetery (http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=44804&mode=1), UK (DOW?)
Leading Aircraftman Ernest Wragg (http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2723936), RAF , 24 Sqdn., age unknown, 17/06/1940, Tangmere (St. Andrew) Churchyard, UK

They could have been the crew of Bristol Bombay Mk I L5852 of 271 Squadron (http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/flew%20into%20high%20ground%20East%20Dean,%20Susse x.), which flew into high ground at East Dean, Sussex (in the administration of Chichester). 271 Sqdn - also a transport squadron - didn't suffer casualties this day.

Sources: CWGC and - if I'm not mistaken - RAF Commands Forum - I think the Bombay popped up after a question was raised about 'unaccounted men' for 17/06/1940 by Henk Welting.

Andy Saunders
4th April 2008, 10:56
Hi Bart!

Yes, I have those details but thank you anyway. No mention is made of the incident in the 24 Squadron ORB for this date and 271 Sqn ORB is equally silent, too. I dont think 24 Squadron had a Bombay on strength so I imagine these men were passengers in what was a 271 Sqn machine. The question is, of course, who were the crew of the Bombay? On 17 June 1940 (the date of the crash) Air Ministry instructions were issued to 24 Sqn stating that all routine flights by the squadron to France were to cease forthwith. It is likely, then, that these men were being evacuated from France. The only other detail I have is that the aircraft caught fire on impact when it struck hill descending through cloud so it is unlikely to have been a survivable accident. Pegasus XXII's numbered 116082 and 125460, but that is it. Even have engine numbers...the rest a mystery!!

B.F.M. Droog
4th April 2008, 11:15
Hello Andy,

This is a wild guess: but what about the possibility that the plane was on loan from 271 Sqdn, and that's the reason why this loss went unnoticed in the ORB's from both Squadrons, due to a bureaucratic hick-up?
The pilots being then the two officers.



Ex Shack
4th April 2008, 20:18
Hi Andy
Bart could be right about the 217 Sqn a/c being "borrowed" by 24 Sqn. 24 was based at Hendon and was responsible for the transportation of RAF Officers wherever they needed to go. 17/6/40 is the date when the Lancastria was sunk so we were still evacuating personnel from the W Coast of France and 24 Sqn may well have been involved in last ditch evacuations and functioning the way OADU did later in the war ,using any means it could . It might be an idea to find out where the Bombay took off from.

B.F.M. Droog
4th April 2008, 20:36

There's one aspect on this that points to the two officers being the pilots of the crashed Bristol Bombay (or another plane). In most cases where the CWGC mentions (Pilot) before a name the airman in question was behind the controls of a plane when he died.

Not always - but it might be an indication.



Chris Goss
5th April 2008, 09:13
Andy: 271 Sqn inherited 5 Bombays in May 40, 3 of which came from SHQ Debden which had been supporting ops in France-3 of the other serials were L5814, L5817 and L5851. 24 Sqn was detached to Reims & Echemines in May 40 so it looks as if there were passengers but who was who doing what was probable forgotten in the fog of war? I wonder if the AHB can throw any light?