Chatham Observer – Friday July 30th 1943
PLANE RIPS TOPS OFF FARM COTTAGES: Several Injured in Crash Near Cobham
Three of crew killed
OCCUPANTS of two farm cottages at Henhurst were injured-three seriously – when a plane crashed into the cottages early on Sunday July 4th.
After severing a telegraph pole the plane, which had been heard flying low, struck the roof of the cottages and completely demolished the front bedrooms.
The force of the impact broke the plane in two, half remaining on the roof of the cottages and the engines and wings dropping into the gardens.
Only floors left
Only the floors of the bedrooms remained. The walls were shattered and furniture was scattered over a wide area.
The occupants of the cottages were all in bed at the time. Mr. and Mrs. D. Danes were thrown into the garden and their bed was found under part of the plane.
Mr. and Mrs. W. Epps were left on part of their bed, the foot of which was wrenched off.
Mr. Epps shouted to his son, Peter, aged 13, who was in a back bedroom.
Peter bravely climbed through the fuselage of the plane to join his parents who were unhurt.
Richard Dines, who was sleeping in a back bedroom was also unharmed.
Frank, another son, who was in a middle bedroom, received facial injuries. Mr. and Mrs. Dines were removed to Gravesend Hospital in a serious condition. Mrs. Epps was also detained with a fractured skull.
Mr. Epps and Frank Dines were taken to hospital but were not detained.
Neighbours were quickly on the scene and rendered assistance. These included War Reserve Constable A. Russell. Special Constable B Parrish and E. V. Down, and Mr. R. Wood.
One wing of the plane caught fire, but fortunately the wind blew the flames away from the cottages. This outbreak was soon extinguished.
Ambulances soon arrived to take the injured to hospital.
Mr. V. Russell, farm bailiff, described how he saw the plane as it flew low over his house, which is about three-quarters of a mile from the cottages.
Heard a crash
“A moment or so later”, he said, “I heard a crash. I got on my bicycle and rode to the cottages as quickly as I could.”
Peter Epps was relieved to find his pet kitten safe amid the wreckage and one of his first acts was to see that it was cared for at a neighbour’s house.
The cottages stand on their own. They are owned by Mr. J. W. Pye of Jeskyns Farm, Cobham, who is chairman of Strood Rural Council.
Three members of the wrecked plane were killed and two were injured.
Another plane crashed on Cobham golf course. The crew baled out and there were no casualties.
Both planes were on their way home after a raid on enemy territory. It is believed that they were seeking to land but were unable to find the airdrome owing to a ground mist.
RAF 432 Squadron
03/04-07-1943 N0. 432 Squadron Wellington X HE630 QO-B
Base: RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire
Crash Site: Henhurst Lane, Gravesend, Kent
Pilot: Sgt. Johial William Baker J/17766 RCAF age 22, Killed
Fl/Eng: P/O EW Bovard RAFVR, survived – injured
Air/Bmr/Obs: Sgt. Glen Edwin Lewis R/133341 RCAF age25, Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Holmes 1091687 RAFVR age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr. Sgt. D.K. Ryan RAFVR survived – injured
432 Squadron was formed at Skipton-on-Swale on 1st May, 1943. The squadron crest displays a cougar leaping down in front of a full moon, symbolizing the many night-bombing operations and the fight for the “light of freedom against the darkness of oppression.” Beneath the crest sits the motto “Saeviter ad lucem.” (“Ferociously towards the light”)
Flying as part of No. 6 (R.C.A.F.) Group, the unit was initially equipped with the Wellington bomber. The aircraft code “QO” signified the plane belonged to 432 Squadron. In September of 1943, East Moor became the new base for the unit. A month later, the group began to convert to the Lancaster. In February, 1944, the Halifax replaced the Lancaster as the squadron’s aircraft. The Halifax served the unit for the remainder of the Second World War. The last operational mission occurred on 25th April, 1945, when 19 Halifaxes bombed gun batteries on the island of Wangerooge. Among the 144 decorations awarded to the aircrew were over a hundred Distinguished Flying Crosse
Don Blackburn Aug. 2018