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Duke of Edinburgh

H.R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Edingburh

RAF aircraft's crash sites in Province of West-Vlaanderen:
Veurne

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Elegy to
the Heroes of Silence


* To the 38 Squadron *
* To the crew of R3162-HD-H *
* To the monument erected in remembrance *
* Cemetery where rest the crew *

Crash site of Wellington R3162-HD-H
30/05/1940

aircraft
cest raf squadron
Unit: 38 Squadron
Aircraft: Wellington
Code: R3162-HD-H
Base: Marham
Mission: air support to BEC
Crew officer: P/O Baynes Roy
Incident: Hit by German Flak

Location: (Prov. West-Vlanderen)

crash

Facts

Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic R3162 (HD-H) 38 Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) when lost (failed to return) from combat operations on the night of 30-31 May 1940. All six crew killed. According to the official Air Ministry file on the incident (File AIR 81/696): "Wellington R3162 crashed in Belgium, 30 May 1940. Aircraftman 2nd Class J C Adams, Sergeant J Knight, Sergeant D D G Spencer, Temporary Sergeant J Dolan, Flying Officer V A W Rosewarne and Pilot Officer R Baynes: report of deaths"
On 30 May 1940 seventeen Wellington Bombers from RAF Marham took off at 22:25 hours to provide close ground support to the BEF as they withdrew from the beaches of Dunkirk. Target: Diksmuide, Belgium. Aircraft R3162 from 38 Squadron was shot down near the town of Veurne (West Vlaanderen), 25 km SW of Ostende in Belgium and the 6-man crew were killed. The co-pilot, Flying Officer Vivian Rosewarne was reported missing, believed killed on 31 May 1940. His station commander, Group Captain Claude H. Keith, found a letter among the missing airman's personal possessions. It had been left open, so that it could be passed by the censor. Group Captain Keith was so moved by the letter that, with the mother's permission, it was anonymously published in The Times on 18 June 1940. It was subsequently published in a small book (An Airman's Letter to His Mother) and reprinted three times.
By the end of the year over 500,000 copies had been sold. King George VI wrote personally to the mother. Suggestions that the letter was fictitious and propaganda eventually led to the identification of Flying Officer Rosewarne and his death notice was eventually published on 23 December 1940. In 1941 Michael Powell released a short documentary style British propaganda film of the letter featuring the voice of John Gielgud.
All six crew fatalities were buried at Veurne Communal Cemetery Extension, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Since the official date of the loss of the aircraft and crew was 30 May 1940, this implies that Wellington R3162 crashed before midnight on the night of May 30-31st 1940.

See the text of the letter here

Sources:
Aviation Safety
The International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
Aircrew Remembered
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