within the Archive for  Bedfordshire
Where is Kempston Cemetery? 
click here for location map 

An important part of the archive are the details behind personnel who died or are buried in the county, and the following (summarised) information on the twenty-five RAF and two naval airmen buried at Kempston Rural Cemetery serves to illustrate how this could be of use to relations, local historians or anyone interested in remembering them.

The headstones are four rows. In date order they are:

GATES, AC1. THOMAS RUSSELL, 633735. RAF. 9th May 1941. Age 19. Son of Thomas Russell Gates and Sarah Gates, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire.
Details not known.

PHITIDIS, Sgt. (Pilot) GEORGE PLATON, 1317492. RAFVR. 12th October 1941. Son of Constantine Haralambou Phitidis and Alexandra Gabriel Phitidis, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa.
Killed when Blenheim L4849 (Mk IV) of 51 OTU (Cranfield) crashed at Colemans Orchard, nr. Cross Keys Cottage, Cranfield,while carrying out local flying. 03.45hrs; moonlight night. Came in to land u/c retracted - went round again & dived steeply into ground. Signs of impact were consistent with early stages of a right hand spin.

CUKE, Sgt. (Pilot) MARK RADFORD, 1383433. RAFVR. 17th November 1941. Age 23. Son of the Hon. H. Archibald Cuke, MLC., and Isabella M Cuke, of St Michael, Barbados. Diploma Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture. Killed when Blenheim L1353 (Mk I) of 51 OTU (Cranfield) lost height after a night take-off from Cranfield and struck a tree at Salford, Beds. 23.40hrs; dark night.
His observer/navigator 811075 Sgt. (Obs/W Op) John James Green, RAF (Aux AF), 24, of Crosby, Liverpool is buried at Liverpool, Anfield) Cemetery.

BELOE, Flying Offr. (Pilot) CHARLES EDWARD, 33533, RAF. 5th December 1941. Age 21. Son of Gerald Harry and Margaret Elizabeth Colston Beloe, of Clifton, Bristol.
Killed when Wellington Ic X9799 of 15 OTU (based Harwell), while on a cross- country night training flight collided with Tiger Moth N6968 of 6EFTS (Denton), between 800-1000 ft. at approx. 23.00hrs. The aircraft crashed north east of Piddington Station, near Denton, Northants, and was completely burnt out. All crew in both aircraft were killed - eight in the Wellington and two in the Tiger Moth
The Tiger Moth’s occupants were : Instructor 90507 Flt Lt (Plt) Edward Murray Frisby, RAFVR, of Cropston, Leicestershire is buried at St Cuthbert Churchyard, Great Glen, Leicestershire. Pupil Pilot 1443637 LAC (Plt) David Quaife May, RAFVR, 20, of St Albans, Hertfordshire is buried at SS Peter & Paul Churchyard, Sywell. 

NESBITT, Sgt. (Pilot) THOMAS ALEXANDER, 1074968. RAF(VR). 5th December 1941. Age 30.
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

WRIGHT, Sgt. (Pilot) HARRY, 1380378. RAF(VR). 5th December 1941. Age 30. Son of John Charles Wilson Wright and Evelyn Wright; nephew od Esther A Wright, of Brighton, Sussex.
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

LOADER, Sgt. (Obs) HERBERT SAMUEL, 1377212. RAFVR. 5th December 1941. Age 20. Son of George Herbert and Hannah Rebecca Loader, of Plaistow, Essex.
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

MARCUS, Sgt. (W Op/Air Gnr) DEREK JULIUS, 1360363. RAFVR. 5th December 1941. Age 25. Son of Rudolph Benjamin Marcus and of Lottie May Marcus (née Miller); husband of Regina Amelia Marcus (née Fooks), of Maida Vale, London.
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

MATTINGLEY, Sgt. (W Op/Air Gnr) JAMES HENRY, 1057674. RAFVR. 5th December 1941. Age 21. Son of John Henry and Kathleen Mattingley, of Hackney, London.  
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

JOHNSTON, Sgt. (W Op/Air Gnr) ARTHUR GERALD, 591395. RAF. 5th December 1941. Age 20. Son of William and Anne Johnston, of St John’s, Woking, Surrey.
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

PARROTT, Sgt. (W Op/Air Gnr) SYDNEY GEORGE, 976645. RAFVR. 5th December 1941. Age 21.
Killed with Flying Officer Beloe. (Wellington X9799)

TORY, ACW2. FREDA, 450985. WAAF. 13th February 1942. Age 21. Daughter of B R Tory and of Ethel Tory, of St Mary Cray, Kent.
Details not known.

MAXWELL, Flt.Sgt. (Pilot) ARNOLD GRANT, R/95390. RCAF. 6th May, 1942. Age 20. Son of Thomas Edward and Mary Irene Maxwell, of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.
Killed when Hampden AD826 (Mk I) of 16 OTU (based Upper Heyford) dived into the ground near Bourne End Farm, Wooton while on a cross-country country & bombing exercise. 2.57am; moonlit night.  There was no evidence of engine failure and it is thought that the pilot was circling at about 500 ft to identify his position and, whilst doing so, lost height and dived into the ground.

HANCOCK, Flt.Sgt (Air Obs.) JOHN PATRICK, R/76975. RCAF. 6th May 1942. Age 20. Son of Charles .F Hancock and Esther A. Hancock, of Strome, Alberta, Canada.
Killed with Flt.Sgt. Maxwell. (Hampden AD826)

O’BRIEN, Flt.Sgt. (W.Op/Air Gnr.) DONALD KEMPTON, R/76409. RCAF. 6th May 1942. Age 32. Son of Edward Kempton O’Brien and Elizabeth Marie O’Brien, of Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Killed with Flt.Sgt. Maxwell. (Hampden AD826)

BROWN, Sgt. (W.Op./Air Gnr.) THOMAS LLOYD, R/70880. RCAF. 6th May, 1942. Age 24. Son of John S. Brown and Eliza J. Brown of Wolseley, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Killed with Flt.Sgt. Maxwell. (Hampden AD826)

GILMOUR, Flt. Sgt. (Pilot) ROSS MACKENZIE, R/79369. RCAF. 19th August 1942. Age 21. Son of William and Maggie Gilmour; husband of Robina McNeill Gilmour, of Verdun, Province of Quebec, Canada.
Killed when Blenheim L6623 (Mk I) of 51 OTU (Cranfield) hit a tree and blew up at Ridgemont, Beds., approximately 3 minutes after take-off on a GCI exercise. Time 00.01hrs; dark night. Cause obscure - though from eye witness accounts it appears that one or both engines were not working correctly.
His observer/navigator, 1324780 Sgt (Obs/Radar) William Ian McQuatters, RAFVR, 19, of Rutherglen is buried at Rutherglen Cemetery, Lanarkshire.

SMITH, Flying Offr. (Pilot) PETER FRANCIS, 123022. RAFVR. 25th October 1942. Son of Frederick and Ida Kathleen Smith, of Northwood, Middlesex. His brother, Derek Christopher Horace, also died on service.
Killed when Havoc BB898 (Mk I) of 51 OTU (Cranfield & Twinwoods) crashed and caught fire 250yds NNW of Fox & Hounds PH. at Clapham after a night take-off on a X-country exercise. Trouble must have developed immediately after take-off as fuel was jettisoned hard. Time 00.56hrs. ORB notes : "This was the first nights flying at Twinwoods - an unfortunate start".
His observer/navigator, 1397540 Sgt (Obs/Radar) Denis Thornhill Edmonds Massey, RAFVR, 19, of Byfleet, Surrey is buried at Brookwood Cemetery (The London Necropolis).

CASEY, Sgt. (Pilot) LEONARD JAMES, 414957. RNZAF. 28th November 1942. Age 21. Son of Joseph Michael Casey and Frances Delia Casey (née Kavanagh), of Herne Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.
Killed when Havoc BJ501 (Mk I) of 51 OTU (Cranfield & Twinwoods) stalled following a steep climb from ground level with wheels down on overshoot, and crashed at Rutters Cottage Meadow near Thurleigh. Pilots 1st solo on type. The crash occurred at 19.05hrs.

PEARSON, Sgt. (Radio/Obs) RANDAL GEORGE, 1339699. RAFVR. 23rd December 1942. Age 20. Son of Randal and Florence Pearson, of Fulwood, Sheffield.
Killed when Blenheim L4872 (Mk IV) of 51 OTU (Cranfield) lost height and crashed at Wood End, Marston at 22.10hrs, following engine failure after take-off from Cranfield.
His pilot, 1336190 Sgt (Plt) William Desmond Patrick Hindle, RAFVR, of Lea, Preston is buried at Accrington Cemetery, Lancashire.

MILLER, Sgt. (Pilot) GORDON CHRISTIAN NOESGAARD, 416521. RNZAF. 6th May 1943. Age 22. Son of Leonard Henry Miller, and of Thora Miller, of Auckland City, New Zealand.
Killed when Beaufighter X7616 (Mk IF) of 51 OTU (Cranfield), for no apparent reason, dived into the ground at Manor Farm Hall, nr. Bletchley. The aircraft was almost completely buried and still burning 24hrs later. The crash occurred at 01.25hrs.

HINTON, Pilot Offr. (Pilot) ALLAN THOMPSON, J/23231. RCAF. 4th June 1943. Age 21. Son of Allan Thompson Hinton, and of Martena Hinton, of East Orange, New Jersey, USA.
Killed when Master W9038 (Mk II) of 7 (P)AFU (based Sibson) struck the roof of Olney Park Farm and crashed into a field nearby while low flying. He was a US national.

GREEN, LAC. (Drogue Op) ALFRED CHARLES MICHAEL, 1385664. RAFVR. 3rd March 1944. Age 21. Son of Bertie Frederic and Anorah Mary Green; husband of Esther Atkinson Green, of Kempston.
Killed when Martinet JN280 (Mk I) of 51 OTU (Cranfield) dived into ground during aerobatics, at Bedford Reservoir.
His pilot, 1345052 Sgt (Plt) George Godfrey Lester, RAFVR, 22, of Edinburgh is buried at Edinburgh (Rosebank) Cemetery, Pilrig Street, Leith.

WHITBREAD, Sgt. (Flt Engr) DENNIS LAWSON, 1624919. RAFVR 433 (RCAF) Sqdn. 5th August 1944. Age 22. Son of Arthur Charles and Daisy Beatrice Whitbread; husband of Lilian May Whitbread, of Kempston. 
Extract from ‘Bomber Command Losses; 1944’ : "Halifax III MZ828 BM-H Op.: St-Leu. T/o 10.38hrs. Skipton-on-Swale. On return to base, and while preparing to land, an engine failed and the Halifax came down at 15.35hrs in the nearby village that lends its name to the airfield. Tragically, in addition to the two airmen who died, 5 year old Kenneth Battensby was unable to run clear as the bomber came hurtling through some trees before skidding accross the village square and coming to a halt with its nose section resting against a mature elm tree. F/O Harrison RCAF (pilot) is buried in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery. Sgt Whitbread rests in Kempston Cemetery." Five others injured.

FAIRLIE, LAC. JOHN CAVANAGH. 990379. RAFVR. 21st June 1945. Age 24. Son of John and Teresa Fairlie; husband of Doreen Deborah Fairlie, of Hornsey, Middlesex.
Was a passenger in Mosquito TA282 (Mk XIX) of 12 FU, which crashed at Cranfield while "beating up" a/f with one engine feathered. The aircraft lost speed in the turn, stalled and crashed, destroying four parked Mosquito’s. Time 11.45hrs. His pilot was NZ43484 F/Sgt G G Kendall (NZ), who is buried at Cambridge.

Alongside these RAF graves are two Naval burials - one of whom is known to have been an aviator.

TOMPKINS, Sub-Lieut. (A) DOUGLAS GEORGE. RNR. HMS Daedalus. 14th January 1942. Age 23. Son of Arthur James Tompkins and Hilda Elizabeth Tompkins; Husband of Margaret Joyce Tompkins.
Killed when Master III W8763 of 1 SFTS, Netheravon, crashed at night near Shrewton RLG, after suspected engine trouble.

The other naval headstone bears the words: Sub-Lieutenant / W A OWEN / Royal Naval Vol. Reserve / 27th May 1945 / Age 19 / A bitter grief / a shock severe / to part with one / we loved so dear
(... cause of death not known)


Supplementary list for a further eleven RAF burials at Cranfield (SS Peter & Paul) Churchyard
A similar much larger archive has been compiled by Geoff Negus.  Begun in 1984 the British, Commonwealth & Polish Air Services Personnel Archive currently contains details of more than 90,000 air force fatalaties (see 'Sample Archives' page for contact details)