On 22 July 1943, Sergeant John Archibald Campbell RAFVR (1690312) age 20, lost his life in an aircraft accident at RAF Stradishall in the Borough of St Edmundsbury in the English county of Suffolk (between Cambridge and Ipswich).
Campbell was flying in a Short Stirling Mk1, W7586 four-engine heavy bomber from RAF 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) at RAF Stradishall. Heavy Conversion Units were formed in late 1941 to qualify crews trained on medium bombers to operate heavy bombers. They took off, detailed to carry out practice circuits and landings. An attempt was made to practice a three-engine approach; the aircraft overshot the runway and they tried to go around again for another go. The aircraft stalled and crashed at 17.46 hours. All on board were killed:
Pilot Officer Leonard Gerrard Sellars RAAF (409454), pilot, age 31
Sergeant John Archibald Campbell RAFVR (1690312), flight engineer, age 20
Flying Officer Robert Henry Rutherford RAFVR (133718), navigator, age 20
Flight Sergeant Raymond Henry Murdock RCAF (R/128432), bomb aimer, age 31.
Sergeant Richard George Kings RAFVR (1185185), air gunner, age 27
Sergeant George Frank Albert Wix RAFVR (1804500), air gunner, age 20
Flight Sergeant Ernest Henry Benjamin Saker RAAF (425224), age 20
Campbell was the son of May D Campbell formerly of 177 Glasgow Road, Perth, and latterly Pitlochry. He was a member of Pitlochry ATC before joining the RAF ten months prior. He is buried in Golders Green Crematorium, London.
Some Heavy Conversion Units did, if their help was needed, take part in operational bombing missions over Germany.
RAF Stradishall – see also William Alexander Watson and John Reginald James Laidlay.
ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (HU 93005) The scene at Shepherds Grove, Suffolk, on the day after Short Stirling B Mark III, EF252 of No. 1657 Conversion Unit swung off the runway, following an engine failure during take off, and hit the watch office, 27 July 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211474
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: SHORT S.29 STIRLING. (CH 3138) Stirling Mark I, N3641 ?MG-D?, of No. 7 Squadron RAF, running up its engines on the ground at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126903
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: SHORT S.29 STIRLING. (CH 5476) Three Stirling Mark Is of No. 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit based at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, in flight over the Cambridgeshire countryside. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126928