Kenyon Crew, Christmas Eve 1944

On Christmas Eve 2017, we included details of the Kenyon crew from 35 Squadron at Graveley, who crashed just after take-off on 24 December 1944.

This December, 2018, we were sent a detailed dossier compiled by Paul Herod. Here is one particularly interesting story from the dossier about Low Farm, Great Paxton, where one of the bombs of the wrecked Lancaster came to rest. The story was recounted and the map drawn from memory by D R Garner, in 1985, 41 years after the event.

Notes given to Mrs Black (current owner of Low Farm House) by D R Garner.

It was Christmas Eve of 1944 as I recall, at that time I was stationed at RAF Graveley near Huntingdon. This particular day I was NCO In Charge of the Crash Guard (a group of airmen & NCO to go to guard any type of crash, friend or foe, in the immediate area), I had been doing my usual spell of bomb-loading on Lancasters until 16.00 hours. However, just after 16.00 hours, dark almost, we were called out to stand guard on one of our planes that had crashed just after take off […] With six airmen I went to the scene of the crash […]

The plane with seven crew and full bomb load struck a house top beyond the end of runway, this caused the Lancaster to crash into a row of tall trees (only one remains now). This smashed the wings off, the bombs were catapulted from the bomb bay and most rolled into a ditch running parallel to the roadway with one exception (because of lack of height no bomb can explode until the steel wire is fractured, this happens when a propeller spins with action of passing through the air, breaks the wire, then the bomb is live to burst on impact). This solitary bomb rolled towards the farmhouse, hitting the wall of the bathroom, which was on the corner, at ground level. The farmer’s wife was in the bathroom at the time but when I arrived, maybe 7-8 minutes after the crash, she was in her dressing gown, by the phone. It was impossible to do anything, the plane was on fire; chickens in the garden of a farm cottage were running around with their feathers smouldering.

We were billeted at the farmhouse until such time as the crashed plane, crew and bombs were removed.

To this day I have never met a cooler lady. At breakfast she came into the dining room with her cat under her arm, its tail in her mouth playing make-believe bagpipes. She had risked her life to approach that doomed plane, no one had escaped. I have often wondered if she still lived at that farm? (I know now she does not, when I spoke with Mrs R Black).