During my continuing research into my Uncle, Harry Tilby, I found references to his best friend, Sgt. 978863 Lloyd Jones who was killed in a flying accident (possibly at RAF Manston, Kent) on the 28th of May, 1941.
I have located Lloyd’s grave at Mellor, Lancashire where my Uncle attended the funeral, both as a friend and to represent 23 Squadron.
So far, I have been unable to find any record of the details of Lloyd’s accident.
Any assistance that readers of this site can give, would be very much appreciated.
An answer from John Knifton…
I think this is it…
The text reads….
On 28th May 1941 – F/O Willans was the pilot of a Douglas A20 Havoc which was engaged in low level air-to-air combat practice over RAF Manston. This was another of the ‘familiarisation’ flights to get the RAF crews used to this light bomber / heavy fighter which was being brought over from the US in ever increasing numbers.
The A20 Havoc involved in this incident was serial number BB893. Flying Officer Willans , Service number 41089 was the pilot. His crew were – Air Observer – Sergeant Lloyd Jones – Service number 978863 and Air Gunner Sergeant Gerald Johnson RNZAF – service number 391859. I have posted a thread about Sgt Johnson
During the course of the mock dog-fight, on this day, the aircraft started to spin out of control and crashed about 400 yards to the SW of the RAF Manston boundary. All three crew members were killed.
F/O Willans is buried in the CWGC section of the graveyard of St. Mary’s at Clymping, Sussex – I have attached a photograph of his grave headstone which I took a few months ago ( without realising that I had done so ! ! ! ! )
Sgt Gerald Bruce Johnson (http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=9178.0) ( Air Gunner ) is buried in the CWGC section of the graveyard at St. Mary’s, Clymping, Sussex – close to his pilot’s grave / resting place.
Sgt Jones ( Air Observer ) is buried in St Mellor Church graveyard, Mellor, Lancashire.
From a message in my inbox from Cliff Adams, 418 Squadron Association Historian…
F/Sgt H. E. D. Tilby an observer who was transferred from 23 Squadron RAF to 418 Squadron RCAF. F/Sgt Tilby was lost in April of 1942 shortly after joining 418 Squadron. You may be interested in this story as it certainly fills in some of the early intruder work done by 23 Squadron.
Have attached a couple of photos for you.
In the crew photo my Uncle is on the right, in the centre is the pilot, Flt/Lt A.J. (Jack) Love and on the left is F/Sgt Malcolm Bunting their Air Gunner.
I believe this photo to have been taken while they were still with 23 Squadron, although the nose recognition letter on the Boston/Havoc behind them is indistinguishable. My family did not receive any photos from Harry while he was with 418, so I’m 99.9% certain they are with 23 here.
The other photos are self-explanatory.
They are buried together in Montdidier, northern France along with several other R.A.F and R.C.A.F. aircrew shot down in the area. Montdidier itself was a Luftwaffe base with Heinkel 111s of Luftflotte 2 stationed there.