These pictures record the funeral of 3 airmen of 21 Squadron, R93513 Sgt. S.B.G. Heron. Pilot R.C.A.F. Aged 20, R65700 Flt. Sgt. G.D. Maluish Air Observer R.C.A.F. Aged 23, 1067562 Sgt. G.E. Step Air Gunner R.A.F. Aged 20.
As far I can be certain, the facts behind these pictures are as follows.
This crew were killed in a flying accident on board Blenheim V5851 of 21 Squadron on July 7th 1942. Having been decimated in Malta, 21 Squadron was officially disbanded in North Africa on 14 March 1942, and reformed at Bodney airfield in Norfolk, that same day. 21 Squadron reformed with Blenheim Mk I’s and IV’s, left behind by 82 Squadron which had departed, while awaiting new Venturas to arrive. At the time of this crash only about three war weary Blenheims were on charge and these were used as ‘squadron hacks’ to move between Watton, Bodney and other bases.
Eye witnesses have related to us that the Blenheim was flying at very low level about 2-3 miles south of the airfield, over the village of Stow Bedon. The land there forms a deep valley and as the aircraft flew up the side of the hill towards the airfield it is said that the aircraft’s tail hit a tree and was ripped off. It does seem unlikely that could happen and it is equally possible that there was a structural failure of the airframe; as far as I am aware no blame was ever attached to any of the crew for the accident.
The aircraft then zoomed skywards before diving into the ground behind a house in Stow Bedon. It was observed that the legs of one of the crew were dangling and waving as if struggling to escape from the camera hatch in the aircraft during the final descent. This would have been the escape hatch for the Wop/AG but sadly he didn’t make it out of the aircraft.