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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 228653
Last updated: 2 December 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic well model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Vickers Wellington Mk 1c
Owner/operator:38 Squadron Royal Air Force (38 Sqn RAF)
Registration: R3162
Fatalities:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Veurne (West Vlaanderen), 25 km SW of Ostende -   Belgium
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Marham, Norfolk
Destination airport:RAF Marham, Norfolk
Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic R3162 (HD-H) 38 Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) when lost (failed to return) from combat operations on the night of 30-31 May 1940. All six crew killed. According to the official Air Ministry file on the incident (File AIR 81/696): "Wellington R3162 crashed in Belgium, 30 May 1940. Aircraftman 2nd Class J C Adams, Sergeant J Knight, Sergeant D D G Spencer, Temporary Sergeant J Dolan, Flying Officer V A W Rosewarne and Pilot Officer R Baynes: report of deaths"

On 30 May 1940 seventeen Wellington Bombers from RAF Marham took off at 22:25 hours to provide close ground support to the BEF as they withdrew from the beaches of Dunkirk. Target: Diksmuide, Belgium. Aircraft R3162 from 38 Squadron was shot down near the town of Veurne (West Vlaanderen), 25 km SW of Ostende in Belgium and the 6-man crew were killed. The co-pilot, Flying Officer Vivian Rosewarne was reported missing, believed killed on 31 May 1940. His station commander, Group Captain Claude H. Keith, found a letter among the missing airman's personal possessions. It had been left open, so that it could be passed by the censor. Group Captain Keith was so moved by the letter that, with the mother's permission, it was anonymously published in The Times on 18 June 1940. It was subsequently published in a small book (An Airman's Letter to His Mother) and reprinted three times.

By the end of the year over 500,000 copies had been sold. King George VI wrote personally to the mother. Suggestions that the letter was fictitious and propaganda eventually led to the identification of Flying Officer Rosewarne and his death notice was eventually published on 23 December 1940. In 1941 Michael Powell released a short documentary style British propaganda film of the letter featuring the voice of John Gielgud.

Crew of Wellington R3162:
Flying Officer (Pilot) Vivian Allen William Rosewarne, RAF 40021, killed in action 30/05/1940
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Roy Baynes, RAF 42479, killed in action 30/05/1940
Sergeant (Observer) John Knight, RAF 581515, age 19, killed in action 30/05/1940
Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) Dennis Douglas George Spencer, RAFVR 755611, killed in action 30/05/1940
Aircraftman 2nd Class (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) James C. Adams, RAF 630069, age 20, killed in action 30/05/1940
Sergeant (Air Gunner) John Dolan, RAFVR 902515, age 34, killed in action 30/05/1940

All six crew fatalities were buried at Veurne Communal Cemetery Extension, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Since the official date of the loss of the aircraft and crew was 30 May 1940, this implies that Wellington R3162 crashed before midnight on the night of May 30-31st 1940.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft R1000-R9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1980 p 18)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/696:

Revision history:

01-Sep-2019 01:18 Dr. John Smith Added
01-Sep-2019 01:19 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
01-Sep-2019 01:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
02-Sep-2019 13:29 stehlík49 Updated [Operator]

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