405 Squadron – The McLennan Crew and Black Thursday

Walter with his sister Ethel on his last home leave

Top: the only known photograph of the crew, taken by Walter Sheppard, the navigator. L-R: Buck (not on the fatal trip), Cornwell, McLennan, Morrie Martin (not on the fatal trip), Halliwell, Schneider.

On Black Thursday, the McLennan crew, from 405 Squadron of the Pathfinders, were one of the casualties of the fog. They came down in farmland not far from RAF Station Graveley where they had been trying to land. All the crew were killed except the rear-gunner, Clair Nutting.

Pilot: P/O Burns Alexander McLennan, RCAF
Flight Engineer: Herbert Leonard Cornwell
Navigator: Walter Fitzgerald Sheppard
Bomb Aimer: Gordon Raymond Schneider, RCAF
W/Op: Eric Halliwell
Mid-Upper Gunner: Maurice Francis Victor Roobroeck, RCAF
Rear Gunner: Clair Nutting, RCAF

There is a beautiful memorial to the crew, erected by Colin Stocker on the site where their aircraft crashed, at Yelling. Colin Stocker was only a boy when the aircraft crashed, but when he saw the aftermath of the disaster he vowed that one day he would put up a memorial to the McLennan crew.

The Memorial – the Graveley airfield, which they were trying to reach, was just over the sky line.