KINCHINGTON, Keith James. Sergeant/Air Gunner (1338708)
625 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Died 10 June 1944, aged 22
Keith James Kinchington
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Keith was the son of James Daniel Kinchington and Kitty Faith (née Rogers), and was the husband of Marjorie Evelyn (Margie) Kinchington, "of Epsom, Surrey". Margie's maiden name was Plowman, and their Q2 1943 marriage was registered in the Surrey Mid Eastern District which includes Epsom. The couple had a son, Barrie, born Q4 1944 (again in in the Surrey Mid Eastern District) - so at least 3 months after his father's death.
The remainder of this article was originally written in 2007 as a free-standing item under the heading:
An airman from Epsom, is honoured in France.
When anybody goes to war their future must be considered at best, uncertain. All serve, many survive, and others are heroes. Some die, but never leave a mark; some outcomes are known; some are lost to history, while other stories emerge much later from the mists of time.
It was thus when the Epsom and Ewell Local and Family History Centre
(E&ELFHC) were contacted by Monsieur Frederick Vincent, from Bois d'Arcy, a village to the west of Paris asking if we had any knowledge of the Kinchington family from the Epsom area, during the Second World War.
Having heard of similar searches M. Vincent had made for other WW2 plane crashes in France, a group of veterans got in touch with him and asked for his technical assistance. He is a WW2 aviation buff and vice-Chairman of a re-enactment club named "US Army Air Force - Club Europe (USAAF-CE)" which specializes in WW2 allied air forces. He suggested that beyond the historical circumstances he could help them find the relatives of the crew members. This is where we came in.
Monsieur Frederick Vincent, from Bois d'Arcy
Image Source Monsieur Frederick Vincent © 2007
The reason for the enquiry was that the village was to unveil a memorial to the crews of two RAF Lancaster bombers that crashed near the village in June 1944. One came from 166 Sqdn. The other was from 625 Sqdn., in which the rear gunner, Keith James Kinchington came from Epsom. The History Centre, together with The Epsom Guardian, whom M. Vincent had also contacted, traced at least two members of the family, but what else could be found?
After some research at The National Archives at Kew, that one of our volunteers had an opportunity to carry out, it would seem that the crew in question all joined 625 Squadron on 18 April 1944, being transferred from 11 Base, and first flew operationally on 24 April on a raid to Karlsruhe in Germany, They flew in Lancaster W4263.
Avro Lancaster Bomber
Image Source Kago/Wikipedia
Subsequent missions included the following, in the build up to D-Day
|11 May 44 ||ND472 ||to Haslett ||Mission aborted
|21 May 44 ||LM427 ||to Duisberg ||
|22 May 44 ||ND639 ||to Dortmund ||
|24 May 44 ||LM427 ||to le Clipon ||
|27 May 44 ||LL956 ||to Merville ||
|28 May 44 ||LM512 ||to EU coastal batteries ||(Meaning of 'EU' is not known)
|31 May 44 ||LL897 ||to Tergnier ||Mission abandoned due to icing up port
outer engine.(One of 3 to return to base)
|7 June 44 ||ME733 ||to Foret de Cerisy ||
|10 June 44 ||ND472 ||to Archeres ||Aircraft lost
The Crew of Lancaster Mk III. ND 742 of 625 Squadron call sign CF - F took off from RAF Kelstern in Lincolnshire at 2332 hours .All were members of the RAFVR (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve).
Official reports state, "Presumed shot down by night fighters on night of 10/11 June 1944, while attacking rail facilities at Archeres. Aircraft crashed near Bois d'Arcy near Versailles"
More aircraft were lost to night fighters than any other cause. Of those aircrew who were operational at the start of the war only 10% survived to the end. Also, Bomber Command lost more aircrew on a single night than Fighter Command lost throughout the entire Battle of Britain i.e. 497 (officially from 10 July to 31 October 1940). At this rate it is hardly surprising that Bomber Command's aircrew losses during WW2 were more than 55,000. As has been said by others, "If today it represents a debt which can never be repaid, it is at least a debt which must never be forgotten".
The unfortunate crew are buried at Clichy New Communal Cemetery, and are listed as being in Plot 16, Row 14, Graves 9 & 10. while Sgt Kinchington is also in Plot 16 Row 14, but Grave no. 1 . There is no known reason why this should be.
Details of the crew subsequently discovered from various sources, is shown below. The ranks given are those at the time of the operation, and not as shown on the memorial which include promotions that had been 'in the pipeline'
|Rank ||Name ||Postn ||Ser no. ||Age ||Family Details - if known.
|P/O ||James Dudman ||Pilot ||174032 ||26 ||Son of William James & Nora Annie Dudman
|Sgt ||Geoffrey Laurence Mills ||Flt/Engr ||1891587 ||20 ||Son of Mr & Mrs F K Mills Walthamstow Essex.
|P/O ||John William Wells ||Navgtr ||175072 ||34 ||Son of Tom & Ann Hainsworth Wells.and husband of Elsie Wells ofWibsey Bradford Yks.
|F/Sgt ||Peter Cowie ||Air Bomber ||177640 ||N/K ||CWGC give no details
|F/Sgt ||John Taylor ||W/Op ||1079856 ||N/K ||CWGC no details.But husband of Barbara & father of Linda Jacqueline, b. 22 2 1945.Station House Beckingham nr Doncaster.
|Sgt ||Robert Bruce Hodgins RCAF ||Air gunner ||R/197404 ||20 ||Son of Henry & Edna N Hodgins of Park Hill, Ontario Canada
|Sgt ||Keith James Kinchington ||Air gunner ||1338708 ||22 ||Updated family details, as at the head of this new article
A great deal of effort must have gone into the preparations for the unveiling on 20 June 2007 of the monument to honour the crews of the two aircraft that crashed on 10 June 1944. But why now? There was no obvious reason or anniversary.
When asked, M. Vincent said "Why now ? There is no particular reason except that the local French veterans association of Bois d'Arcy wanted to honour the 14 dead airmen who fell on their soil in the fight for our freedom".
Memorial to the crews of two RAF Lancaster bombers
that crashed near the village of Bois d'Arcy
Click on image to see the text of the monument.
Image source Monsieur Frederick Vincent © 2007
What was proposed was a dedication ceremony on 20 June 2007 with the following invitees :
- French local authorities
- Representatives of the British and Canadian embassies
- French branches of the RAF association and British Legion
- 60 standard bearers
- French air force delegation
- Fellow club members in wartime RAF uniforms
- And as many relatives of the airmen as possible
On the day, the monument was unveiled with appropriate ceremony and much emotion.. It is to be hoped that more opportunities are given to record the many heroes of World War Two.
People at the monument unveiling ceremony
Image Source Monsieur Frederick Vincent © 2007
All heroes deserve more recognition than most of them get.
E&ELFHC were happy to have been able to help uncover some of this story of a brave aircrew and an air gunner who lived in Epsom.
Bert Barnhurst, Epsom and Ewell Local and Family History Centre
Updated by Roger Morgan October 2017
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