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The Welney Website

Aircraft crashes in or near Welney in WW2

page created 31st July 2010; last updated Thursday, 09 October 2014
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A number of aircraft accidents occurred locally during WW2.  Some have been fully or partially investigated, others are just vaguely remembered. The late Ernie James, a well known Welney wildfowler, ferry operator, raconteur and 'fen-tiger' recalled a number of wartime incidents in a book 'Memoirs of a Fen Tiger' written in 1986 by his daughter-in-law, Audrey. These included:
  • A Mustang that flew low over him and jettisoned two fuel tanks. One exploded on impact, the other was empty, and Ernie took it home and planted flowers in it. (No date or exact location given)
  • A Lancaster bomber that crashed in the washes; Ernie found some tiny fragments blown off on impact. (No date or exact location given)
  • A Heinkel shot down by an RAF plane crashed in flames in the washes. The crew had baled out, the pilot gave himself up at Suspension Bridge and the others were picked-up later. (No date or exact location given)
  • A Wellington bomber incident in 1941 which Ernie described in some detail. See report, link below.

  Ernie's nephew Raymond James recounted the crash of a Junkers in May 1941 (report in link below), and another source mentioned a Typhoon.

A very comprehensively investigated incident was the crash of a Halifax bomber just over the Welney border at Colony Farm, Manea in 1944, researched by Michael Harrison.

Various voluntary aircraft reaseach groups have physically investigated crashes all around the area, and there are many websites showing details from offical records and personal accounts. Jeff Carless of East Anglian Aircraft Research Group has been particularly helpful and has supplied information (some very detailed) on several crashes and has corrected errors on some earlier postings.



The accidents that this website has information about are listed below. Click the aircaft type to view the report and associated links.
date make type  s/no and code force crash-site
4th Jan 1941 Hawker Hurricane L1741
code n/a
British NE of Wry Necked Mill
10th Feb 1941 Vickers Wellington Mk. 1C T2888
British Stags Holt. Crew bailed-out over Welney Washes
 2nd May 1941 Junkers JU88 A-5 4269
German Welney Washes (?)
6th Nov 1941 Hawker Hurricane V7004
code n/a
British East of Cock Fen Farm
25th Nov 1941 Hawker Hurricane P2822
code n/a
British SW of Old Fm, Cock Fen
13th Jun 1942 Hawker Typhoon Mk.1b R7618
code n/a
British Butchers Hill Farm
24th Nov1943 Avro Lancaster Mk.111 MG-J2
British Lady Fen Fm
25th Apr 1944 Handley- Page Halifax Mk.111 LK789
British SE of Colony Farm
22nd June 1945 NAA Mustang P51B 2-106-638
E9*B (R?)
American Hilgay Fen

map of aircraft crash sites
APPROXIMATE sites of crashes - this is a large file and may take a while to display. Click to enlarge in new window or tab. If you would like exact locations please contact Webmaster.

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lancaster code marks
RAF Stirling coded MG-L
s/no P8623, "L Love", of 56 Sqn
Bomber Command.

wellington code marks
RAF Wellington coded O-LF
"O Orange" of 37 Sqn
Bomber Command.

mustang code marks
USAAF P51B Mustang coded QP-N
"N Nuts (?)" of 334th Fighter Sqn
 4th Fighter Grp, 8th Air Force
(under RAF control)

junkers code marks
Luftwaffe Ju88 coded 4N+EH
"E Emil" of 1. Staffel (H)
Aufklärungsgruppe 22 (4N)


RAF aircraft had a 3-letter code painted each side of the fuselage, 2 letters indicating the squadron, the other the individual aircraft, the two parts separated by the RAF roundel (which had an extra yellow outer ring).

These codes were also used by the RCAF, SAAF, RNZAF, and for a while after America joined in the war, by USAAF units of the 8th and 9th AF. Later, the USAAF codes changed to a completely different system as the number of craft and units increased.

The single letter also indicated the aircraft's call sign, which would have been a name or word from the phonetic alphabet of the time - in the table above, the Wellington was called "R - Robert".  (Phonetic alphabets varied, there was no standardisation in those days, see link on right.)

Very occasionally the single letter would have been followed by a single-digit number, painted much smaller than the letters. It indicated an additional or replacement aircraft. Sometimes the aircraft serial number was shown, also very small (see MG-L on left).

German aircraft had 3 letters and one number - see link on right for details.

In the 1969 film 'Battle of Britain'
the producers insisted that the aircraft should look as authentic as possible. The exception was the code marks. They realised it would be impossible to portray every unit that took part in hostilities and it was decided to use fictitious code letters for the RAF aircraft, thereby apportioning no glory or blame to any particular RAF squadron.


Many of the links I originally posted are no longer working. One is which had a very useful searchable database. There was a lot of controversy about that site contravening copywrite or intelectual property - see link to forum. A new similar site, run from Germany, may be useful so I have added a link to it.
Sources as noted.
Text, design and layout: Peter Cox
© 2013 Welney Website
The usual convention when recording codes is to use a minus sign to indicate the RAF roundel or US Star, and a plus sign to represent the Luftwaffe cross.

Codes could be changed or re-allocated.
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