During the course of operations on the marshes I wonder if any evidence of the following WWII crash has come to light...
"On the 16th November 1942 a British Wellington Bomber No. BJ894, believed to belong to ‘P’ Squadron, crashed on the marshes near South Staines Farm, caught fire and was completely destroyed. The crew of six were killed. The 425th R.C.A.F. Squadron R.A.F. were informed and an R.A.F. guard mounted. (All official documents and personal effects were taken possession of by an R.A.F. intelligence officer from Rochford Aerodrome.) The crew of this bomber are buried in Sutton Road Cemetary.
the Wellington bomber was on a routine training flight when a German night fighter, which was on the prowl over the Thames area caught it. It flew along the length of Long Road all ablaze and eventually came down on the opposite bank of the creek at the end of Northwick Road".
The crew were:
Flight Sergeant (Air Bomber) Joseph Yves Camille Charles A. LaFlamme of Ottawa Ontario.Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Norman Andrews Ash of Peace River, Alberta.Flight Sergeant Jack Tritt of Montreal, Province of Quebec.Flight Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Joseph Fernand Raymond Croteau. Flying Officer (Air Obs.) William George Laut of Bracebridge, Ontario.
It might be a nice gesture to name one of the hides or paths as a memorial to this crew.
Graham, Group Leader, South East Essex RSPB Local Group
Thanks for your post. The RSPB carried out extensive investigations into WWII activity on the marshes before starting habitat creation. Using specialist contractors who researched archives at locations such the MOD, County Hall and local historical sources such as air raid wardens reports and site walk over studies.
A lot of really interesting history came to light, including the crash of the bomber you mentioned – although as we understand from our researchers it didn’t crash on the actual sight of the new nature reserve. We have created an information leaflet on the history of the marsh which will be available to the public, as well as putting some interpretation on site at Bowers Marsh about its history.
In regard to the hide names, unfortunately these have already been decided on. We are using the old field names that were recorded from the marsh on the 1841 tithe map. These will be Long Marsh Hide, Great Pound Hide and Old Saltings Hide. We felt these names were faithful to the character of the marshes we want to protect and went some way in bringing the history of the land alive for visitors.