Help tracing descendants of 149 Sqdn Wellington T2897 crew

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by 0xonian, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. 0xonian

    0xonian Member

    I've just been alerted to the attempt by the French village of St Sever in Calvados to trace the descendants of a Wellington Bomber of 149 Squadron which crashed there on 13 April 1941. The village has erected a memorial to their memory and hopes to have descendants of the crew present for its unveiling in April 2018.

    Can any forum member help? Full details below ...

    "A FRENCH village which suffered tragedy during the Second World War after a stricken Wellington bomber crashed into it is planning to build a lasting memorial to the plane’s doomed crew.

    The Wellington T2897 of 149 Squadron, which was on its way back from a bombing on a German airfield near Bordeaux on April 13, 1941, is thought to have developed engine trouble after being hit by flak. It crashed into the centre of St Sever Calvados, Normandy, killing 9 villagers and five of its six crew members.

    Before the aircraft came down, one of the crew, gunner Sgt Kenneth Rawlings was ordered to bail out in order to light a flare in a field to help guide the aircraft in to land, but it all came too late as the aircraft hit the village. He was subsequently captured by the Germans and put into a POW camp in Poland.

    Witnesses spoke of the horror of that night with Mme Bourgeois, who later recounted: “The plane crash was really frightening. I will never forget this dreadful event on Easter Sunday 1941, I still see the street on fire and the fire brigade coming from several towns around including Vire, Villedieu and Caen to help out and also the human chain of townspeople passing buckets of water,"

    Reports at the time suggest that despite losing members of their own families, hundreds of people turned out under the eyes of the Germans to pay tribute to the courage of the airmen who had been on a mission from RAF Mildenhall to destroy a Luftwaffe airfield in Merignac, the home of the FW 200 long range maritime bomber.

    Since then, the Union Jack has been proudly flown by villagers in the cemetery, but who now they have hatched a plan some 77 year later in 2018 to erect a lasting memorial to the crew’s courage and bravery on that dreadful night as they tried to steer the doomed plane away from the tiny village.

    The French village historian Andre Laroze said a plaque in the main street where the plane came down would remain but would be replaced by the memorial in the cemetery after agreement with the Mayor of St Sever Jean-Pierre Nourry.

    It will also include the names of other victims who died in the area from courageous actions to liberate France, including English pilot DH Clennell who crashed his fighter plane while attacking a German train in 1943 and American pilot Lt Rudolf Marko who crashed a US Typhoon on August 1, 1944.

    Mr Laroze explained: “The work on getting permission for the 1.5metre memorial has been undertaken by local people in their own time and expense and underlines the deep debt of gratitude that still exists among those liberated by the Allies, even though French families suffered casualties in the process.”

    He added: “My hope is that the descendants of the airmen who gave their lives may still live in the same areas of the UK, and while we have made contact with the relatives of the pilot Ronald Morison and D.H Clennell, we have no idea about the rest including Sgt Rawlings and hope that the newspapers TV and social media might help us track them down in time for next year’s unveiling.”

    The Wellington crew included: Pilot Officer Ronald Morison, 23; Pilot Sgt Ernest John Holland DFM, 22, who had been a poster boy for the RAF which encouraged people in Britain to volunteer to work in the aircraft industry during the Second World War, his parents Ernest and Emily Holland lived in Birmingham; Wireless operator Sgt Ronald Hutchinson, 23, son of Edmund and Margaret Hutchinson, of Sunderland, County Durham; Pilot Sgt John Leo Westley, 23, whose parents Alfred and Marie, lived in Sutton, Surrey; Gunner Sgt Walter Hugh Wilkinson, 21, whose parents Walter Henry and Bessie lived in Penrith, Cumberland.

    It is believed that after the war Sgt Rawlings lived at 240 School Road, Yardley Wood, Birmingham, marrying widow Peggotty Capell in Bournemouth in 1946 but no further details about the couple is known.

    If anybody has any information about the crew they can contact Andre Laroze by e-mail at andre.laroze at "
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Whilst looking deeper into this the details for him as a POW are:
    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: K C H Rawlings
    Rank: Warrant Officer
    Army Number: 939991
    Regiment: Royal Air Force : Officers & Other Ranks
    POW Number: 609
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 357
    Camp Location: Kopernikus, Poland
    Section: Royal Air Force : Officers & Other Ranks


    England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
    Name: Kenneth C H Rawlings
    Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1946
    Registration district: Bournemouth
    Inferred County: Dorset
    Spouse: Peggotty N Capell
    Volume Number: 2b
    Page Number: 2079

    Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950
    Name: Kenneth Charles Herbert Rawlings
    Birth Date: 1 Jan 1914
    Birth Location: Birmingham

    This confirms your details of address for him etc

    Unfortunately I cannot find any children from his marriage
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    I have added a couple of bits to the post above - also
    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: Kenneth Charles H Rawlings
    Death Age: 66
    Birth Date: 1 Jan 1915
    Registration Date: Dec 1981
    Registration district: Birmingham
    Inferred County: West Midlands
    Volume: 32
    Page: 1049

    As said I cant find any children from his marriage - a copy of his death cert will inform you who informed the authorities of his death which might be a family member or not

  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hold fire here

    Have found a family tree for him and it shows a child born
    Kenneth Charles Herbert Rawlings

    BIRTH 1 JAN 1914 • Warwickshire, United Kingdom
    DEATH DEC 1981 • Birmingham, West Midlands, England

    I will contact the originator of the tree and see what they know - perhaps they are Kenneths daughter

  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    If other members are searching for crew details then for a start

    England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976
    Name: Ronald Rutherford Morison
    Father's name: Morison
    Death Date: Apr 1941


    Casualty - Holland, Ernest John

    Casualty - Hutchinson, Ronald

    Casualty - WESTLEY, JOHN LEO GUY


    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I have sent a message to the family tree showing Fred Morison, brother of Ronald. Unfortunately Ronald is not shown on the tree, but perhaps he will be now.

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  7. 0xonian

    0xonian Member

    Many thanks TD! Fantastic work. Let's hope the descendants of these brave young men get to hear of it.
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Holland is proving difficult. Ernest John was born in 1919 and his sister Edna M in 1921, their mothers maiden name was Barwell.

    No family tree connections as of yet

  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hutchinson is provingg difficult as well. His father Edmiund married Margaret Wadley in 1913, and in 1917 they had twins, Edmund and Ronald - all based in Sunderland

    No family tree connections as of yet

  10. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, Memorial Books WWI and WWII, 1914-1945
    Name: John Leo Westley
    Birth Date: 16 Jan 1918
    Death Date: 13 Apr 1941
    Military Year Range: December 1949
    Title: Croydon and the Second World War

    From 1952 a rememberance note
    England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976
    Name: John Leo Westley
    Death Date: 13 Apr 1941
    Death Place: St Sever, France

    Global, Find A Grave Index for Burials at Sea and other Select Burial Locations, 1300s-Current
    Name: John Leo Guy Westley
    Death Date: 13 Apr 1941
    Cemetery: St. Sever-Calvados Communal Cemetery
    Burial or Cremation Place: Saint-Sever-Calvados, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France
    Has Bio?: Y

    He appears in 3 family trees and I have sent messages to all 3
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
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  12. 0xonian

    0xonian Member

    This is marvellous! Thank you very much indeed.

  13. 0xonian

    0xonian Member

  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Have sent you a conversation, but to update this thread.

    One reply from Ancestry was not too helpful BUT it did provide the name and date of birth for K Rawlings daughter. Found her birth details, searched for marriage details and found them, then checked and it appears they are living just outside Birmingham.

    So hopefully thats one living relative found

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  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Thanks to the invaluable help of Tony56 we believe we may have found living relatives for Walter Hugh Wilkinson

  16. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Right TD, here's what I've found so far on Morison.

    Parents Fred & Jane marry Dec 1910 Carlisle.

    Fred M. Born Dec 1911 Carlisle
    Charles A. Dec 1913 Carlisle
    Ronald R. Jun 1917 Carlisle
    Margaret V. A. Jun 1919 Penrith
    John K. 1921 Penrith

    Margaret V. A. Morrison marries Dec 1941 to Jackson

    Judith M. Jackson Dec 1942 Carlisle
    Charles C. Jackson Mar 1948 Borders

    I found nothing on Ronald's parents on the Scotland's people website, even though his CWGC entry has them living in Roxburgh. I forgot to mention Ronald's mothers maiden name was Dove.

    Haven't had a chance to see if there are any trees on Ancestry, but its a start.
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  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Amberdog -- thanks muchly for your input

    Re Morisons

    Charles A
    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: Charles A Morison
    Death Age: 5
    Birth Date: abt 1914
    Registration Date: Jun 1919
    Registration district: Penrith
    Inferred County: Cumberland
    Volume: 10b
    Page: 540

    Have also been trying to track down John K Morison - it seems he married twice with no children from either marriage:
    1955 to Stella C V Winchester (1927 - 1960)

    and to

    1965 to Nona Beatrice M Reeves (1920 - 2003)

    So it seems the only lines for Morison that may produce anything are via Fred M and as above Margaret V A

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  18. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    I had a look at Margaret's daughter, Judith Jackson, but even with the middle initial available, there are too many options when it came to potential marriages.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The only one I came up with was 1965 to David W Murray in Cockermouth but got no further as there was too many options/not enough detail to identify any children

  20. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    A Frederick Maxwell Morison born 31 Oct 1911 died in June 79 in the Honiton district. GRO have a marriage for Fred M. Morison marrying a lady with the name Sandford in June 39 in the Lewes area. I'll see if there are any births.

    I believe Ronald's father (Fred H.) died in the Borders, Dec 41.

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