August 1944

Lancaster X KB708 VR-E of 419 (RCAF) Squadron took off from Middleton St George at 19.34 hours on 25th August 1944 with a crew of seven to take part in Operation Russelsheim. As the name implies the destination was the German town of Russelsheim, and the large Opel motor factory located there was the target. Some 412 Lancasters from 1, 3, and 6 Groups took part, and fifteen Lancasters were lost but with a number of crew members surviving.

KB708 VR-E piloted by Flying Officer W A Milner RCAF was having troubles on the return journey on 26th August. With poor weather conditions and the aircraft getting low on fuel it was instructed to divert to Boscombe Down. The Flight Engineer (Sgt J L B Trotman) estimated that they only had about 45 minutes fuel left (it was however probably much less). On the approach to Boscombe, forward visibility was down to about 500 yards and then the fog closed in and the landing lights were obscured. Being unable to see the flare path the pilot overshot to go round again. Almost at once all four engines shut down and very quickly the aircraft was hitting tree tops. The pilot pulled the aircraft up and for a moment the engines cut back in. Banking sharply to the left to avoid more trees the aircraft crashed at 0425 hours in the village of Winterbourne Dauntsey.

The Lancaster broke in two and Sgt L J Weston RCAF was thrown out and survived. Sgt Wiens RCAF, the rear gunner also survived although the rear gun turret had broken off. The third survivor, but very badly injured was Flying Officer P E Gariepy RCAF.

The four crew members who died were:-
J/86366 Flying Officer William Arthur Milner RCAF
He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 43.G.3
He was the son of Albert E Milner and Agnes Milner of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
J/28245 Flying Officer Irving Jack Kirschner RCAF
He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 43.G.4
He was the son of George Louis Kirschner and Bessie Kirschner of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
J/92358 Flight Sergeant Howard Francis Anderson RCAF
He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 43.G.2
He was the son of Walter W J Anderson and Laura May Anderson of Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
1868451 Sergeant (Flt Engr) John Leonard Brunner Trotman RAFVR
He is buried in Durrington (Wilts) Cemetery, Grave 802.
The son of John William Trotman and Maria Elizabeth Trotman (née Brunner).