Following the fall of France in 1940, and the evacuation of the BEF from the beaches of Dunkirk, it fell squarely on the shoulders of the RAF to carry the fight directly into the heart of Germany. The early bombing raids of World War II quickly pointed towards the need for further technical improvement in equipement particularly in Bomber Command.
In late 1940 and 1941 RAF Bomber Command was equiped in the main with 4 types of aircraft, the Whitley, the Blenheim, the Handley Page Hampden and the Vickers Wellington. Of these only 3 could reach Germany and of those, the Hampden soon proved not to be quite upto the task. Coupled with that, the early raids did not have the beneifit of H2S Radar equipment or Fido. Thus the aircrews were limited with their navigational and landing aids.
As a result, targets were not hit, damage to targets was limited and crews had to return to them on several occassions. In addition, aircraft and crews were often lost when, on their return they were diverted due to bad weather, only to run short of fuel and crash. Many lives, and aircraft, were lost in this way.
This is the story of one such crew and aircraft – AD872 – a 144 squadron Hampden that was, in September 1941, flying out of North Luffenham airfield. This aircraft crashed, in my home village, on its return from a raid during the night of the 20th/21st September 1941. Carrying out research on my local memorial to those who fell in World War 1, I came upon the fact that an aircraft and its crew had perished on that night. There is no local memorial to them and it seemed so sad that they, like those before them, had paid the ultimate price in the fight for freedom yet, locally, they seemed to have been forgotten. I hope, therefore, that through this website, they shall not be forgotten and we shall remember them.