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New War Memorial Unveiled

On Monday 17 October 2022, Warrant Officer Rodney Wallace of the Royal Australian Air Force unveiled a new war memorial in Walton Park, Sale to commemorate the crew of a Wellington Bomber, which crashed in the park in 1943. The memorial, a granite plinth, with a polished marble panel, was installed largely as the result of the efforts of George Cogswell, a local historian and a member of this society.

CLICK HERE to see a video of the unveiling and dedication

The air crew of the bomber were five members of the Royal Australian Air Force and one member of the Royal Air Force, four of whom, remarkably, survived the crash.

At 23.50 hours on the night of Tuesday 3rd August 1943, a twin engine "Wellington" Mk X, medium range bomber, No. HE 703, with a crew of five Royal Australian Air Force and one Royal Air Force personnel on board, crashed onto Walton Park in Sale.

Whilst flying over Manchester their port engine cut out, due to failure of the oil retainer and it had to be shut down.  Normally the aircraft would have been able to continue back to base, or just land at another airfield.  However, whilst still flying at 13,000 feet (4 kilometres), the starboard engine started to lose power and from that moment on, the aircraft was doomed.

As it circled, it clipped a large Copper Beech tree in the garden of 2 Carnforth Avenue, then cut the telephone wires on Walton Road.  Somehow the pilot very skillfully managed to lift the aircraft in its final moments over the top of 5 & 7 Walton Road, clipping just the chimneys and damaging the roof before crashing on what is now the football pitch.

Of the six crew, two were killed and one seriously injured.

The pilot - Flight Sergeant Frederick James Matthews and the bomb aimer Flight Sergeant Claude ("Snow") Thompson were both killed in this accident and are buried in the Military Section at Blacon Cemetery, Chester.

The Observer (Navigator) – Flight Sergeant Edward Sargent Newell was killed taking part in a bombing attack on Frankfurt during the night of the night of the 18th/19th March 1944 and is buried in Durnbach Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Germany.

The mid-upper gunner – Flying Officer Clive Prosdocimi Luther died over Holland during the night of the 16th/17th December 1943, whilst taking part in a bombing raid on Berlin.  After crossing the northern coast of Holland the "stream" of bombers was intercepted by German night fighter aircraft operating out of the airbase at Bergen and Clive’s Lancaster bomber shot down.  He is buried in the Stompetoren Churchyard, situated just to the east of Alkmar, Holland

The tail gunner Sgt. John Emmanuel McCarthy RAFVR was killed returning from a bombing raid on Stuttgart during the night of the 20th/21st February 1944 At 06.50 hours on their return on the 21st, they had broken low cloud in preparation for landing, when flying through a snowstorm, they crashed into a tree, half a mile South of  North Witham, Lincolnshire, eight miles South of Grantham. The entire crew was killed.   He was buried in the Templeton Chapel Cemetery  South of Narberth in Pembrokeshire, South Wales.

The wireless operator Flight Sergeant Kevin Gavin Forbes was the only member of this crew to survive the War, but was so badly injured in the Walton Park crash that he never flew operationally again.

More details about these men can be found in George Cogswell’s website Trafford War Dead.

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