The crash of Wellington LP437, 30 July 1944 – appeal for information

It was on a training flight from nearby 27 Operational Training Unit, RAF Lichfield, when Wellington LP437 apparently stalled, crashed and caught fire in a field near Stafford, England, on 30 July 1944. The crew – six Australians – were all killed in the crash.

It’s now approaching 70 years since the accident, and this has prompted a local historian and archaeologist, Bruce Braithwaite, to begin work to trace the families of the six airmen, with an aim to appropriately commemorating the anniversary when it comes around in July.

The details of the crew are as follows:

Pilot: 424927  Flight Sergeant Frederick Luckman Stephens, from Sydney
Navigator: 430243 Flight Sergeant Ray Kethel Bolger, from Williamstown in Melbourne
Bomb Aimer: 432627 Flight Sergeant John Hilary Normyle, from Sydney
Wireless Operator: 436249 Flight Sergeant Jack James Manners, from Sydney
Rear Gunner: 435557 Sergeant Earl Hume Beatson, from Queensland
Mid Upper Gunner: Sergeant 44993 Hugh Alexander Smyth, from Brisbane

The burials of the crew of LP437. Photo via Bruce Braithwaite
The burials of the crew of LP437. Photo via Bruce Braithwaite

If anyone has any information on any of these aircrew or their families, please get in touch through the handy form on this page.

6 thoughts on “The crash of Wellington LP437, 30 July 1944 – appeal for information

    1. G’day,
      Yes we are, thank you – among other things, this post enabled contact with a relative of Earl Beatson – he was the one who requested that the NAA digitise the record you link to. But thank you for getting in touch!

  1. Ray Bolger was the nephew of my grandmother. I used to look look at his picture on the wall as a child and wonder who the person in the uniform was that looked a bit like me. Ray’s Mother Ivy passed away in 1970, and my grandmother in 1987. Which effectively means that there is nobody left from our family that knew Ray personally – as they were born after 1945.

    1. Hi Alan,
      Thanks very much for your comment. I’ve passed your details on to Bruce Braithwaite, who was the man looking for information. I love the way the internet works sometimes!!

  2. Frederick Luckman Stephens was the son of Frederick Shrosbree Stephens and Alice (nee Luckman). Frederick Shrosbree Stephens was a prominent builder and contractor in Sydney in the 1920s and 30s, and was an Alderman and Mayor of Bexley, Sydney. There are various references to him in the Hurstville Propeller newspaper, accessible via the Trove website of the National Library of Australia.

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