From MY last trip to Oxfordshire.
Halifax LW579, MH-V, 51Sqn RAF Snaith, Yorkshire took off along with 795 other planes from all over England on a raid to Nuremburg, Germany. This night was to mark the worst night for Bomber Command in WW2, 97 planes were lost to defences and night fighters, 9 more were written off in accidents or damaged beyond repair, 6 of 51 Sqn aircraft were lost, this raid cost the lives of 545 airmen.
LW579 survived to mission over Nuremburg and made it back over England but though a clear night with a bombers moon, the strong winds which had broke up the attacking aircraft and hampered accuracy over Germany may now have pushed LW579 away from its course home by 120 miles. Flying his plane over blacked out Oxfordshire the pilot P/o James Brooks started to descend, the lost bomber may have been trying to get to RAF Benson which was nearby, but maybe not being aware of the dark mass of the Chilterns that lay between his plane and the safety of Bensons runway, sadly hitting the trees of Cowleaze Woods the Halifax broke up and sadly all 7 crew were lost.
Today a marked trail leads from the sign board in the carpark winding through the trees to a large sandstone plinth marking the crash site, the stone was brought from Lincoln Cathedral and inscribed with the crews’ names. Nearby a shallow scrape marks the site of the bombers crash and a dig that was carried out to recover remains from the site, though I have no details as to when or who carried out the dig.
Looking about the memorial I did find some small remains on the surface near the path, given the high volume of passers-by I was surprised anything would be still visible. In the 30mins I was there 2 groups of walkers came up and were fascinated by the finds and story, one group told of their grandfathers service in Spitfires in WW2 and as if history has a sense of timing a Mk 9 trundled overhead.
Crew of LW579 =
P/o J. Brooks