04.06.1940 59 Squadron Blenheim IV R3697 P/O. Ashton Location: R.A.F. Eastchurch, Kent. +
Mission: Transit flight / Reconnaissance?

Date: 4th June 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 59 Squadron

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: R3697

Code: TR-?

Base: R.A.F. Odiham, Hampshire

Location: R.A.F. Eastchurch, Kent

Pilot: P/O. Stanley William Ashton 42476 R.A.F. Age 29. Killed

Obs: Sgt. William John Wilson 581485 R.A.F. Age 27. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roland Wilson 629500 R.A.F. Age 20. Killed (2)


Understood to have been on a transit flight back to it's base at R.A.F. Odiham, Hampshire, although some sources (3) say that it was on an operational flight.
On take off from R.A.F. Eastchurch the Blenheim is thought to have clipped a wing during take off resulting in the crash near or at R.A.F. Eastchurch, killing all the crew.

Sgt. William John Wilson on left - others as yet unidentified (Courtesy Frank Wilson)

Some sources (4) quote that the aircraft was based in Hawkinge and was as a result of engine failure. On a reconnaissance mission from R.A.F. Andover when it crashed at 12.30 pm on take off.
It is also recorded (same source 4) that on the same day R3697 was piloted by F/O. G.H.D. Evans taking off from R.A.F. Eastchurch and that crew escaped injury. Cause of crash - damage to undercarriage hydraulics by ground fire north of Somme and belly landed outside Eastchurch airfield, the aircraft was a write-off.

(1) The nephew of Sgt. William John Wilson would like any relatives to contact us with any further information, he is planning to place a memorial at the spot. The area is currently one of H.M. prisons.
(2) Sgt. Ronald Wilson had a brother L.A.C. Norman Wilson who served with the R.A.F.V.R. Tragically killed on the 5th January 1946 in a rail accident at Browney junction, Co. Durham. 10 others were also killed, 16 injured and many more suffering minor injuries.
(3) (4) See credits below.

Sadly, the neglected graves of P/O. Ashton (left) and Sgt. Roland Wilson (right)

Burial details:

P/O. Stanley William Ashton. Swindon (Radnor Street) Cemetery. Plot C, Grave 3524
Wife of Josephine Marjorie Ashton of 8 Shrivenham Road, Swidon.
Born on 22nd August 1911 in Swindon. Electrician by trade and a former member of Wiltshire Flying Club.

Sgt. William John Wilson. Edgeware (St. Margaret) Churchyard.
Son of Edward Henry John and Ellen Emma Wilson. of Edgware

Sgt. Roland Wilson. Ryton Cemetery Sec. G, Grave 111
Son of Thomas W. Wilson and Isabella, of 7 Stanhope Street, Greenside, Ryton on Tyne, Co. Durham.

Researched by Kate Tame for Frank Wilson - nephew of Sgt. William J. Wilson and dedicated to the relatives of the crew.
With thanks to Ryton War Memorials, Railway Archives, Graham Warner - "The Bristol Blenheim" (3), Peter D. Cornwell - "Battle For France Then and Now" (4) and the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

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