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George Robert Archbold
Flight sergeant George Robert Archbold, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 36 Squadron, Service No. 1673070, died on March 8th 1945, aged 22.
George Robert was the son of Dodie and Lizzie Archbold and the family lived in one of the old cottages next to the allotments behind Dunstanburgh Road.
George Robert's plane disappeared en-route to Scotland and was lost with all of its crew.
The Squadron's official history, says that:
'The Squadron was moved to Algeria on 7 June 1943 where detachments operated from various bases on anti-submarine patrols and in September 1944 the Squadron moved to Chivenor for similar duties. In March 1945 the squadron moved to Benbecula.....'
George's family tell how he was stationed some where around the Mediterranean and this note suggests that he was in Algeria.
News of George Robert being promoted to Flight Sergeant, reported in the Northumberland and Alnwick Gazette on March 24th 1944. For the original photograph, click here
In researching what happened to the aircraft, contact was made with the secretary of the Royal Air Force 36 Squadron Association, who in turn contacted the Squadron's C.O. at the time of the aircraft's loss. His reply to our enquiry was as follows:
"I have just had a long conversation with WgCdr. George Williams, our Sqn Assn President. He got out his record books from 1945 and was able to give me ALL the details!
Flight Sergeant Archbold was the Navigator on a Wellington MK16 bomber which was lost on a flight from RAF Chivenor in Devon,to Benbecula on the 8th of March of 1945. The crew were as follows: Captain; W/O Botton, 2nd Pilot Sgt Godden, Navigator F/S Archbold, Wireless Op; Sgt Loman, Air gunners; Sgt Fraser, and Sgt Forbes. There was also a WAAF on board who was having a lift home. The aircraft made no distress call, and no wreckage was ever found. It was assumed it had crashed into the sea.
There is a Sqn. photograph of the chaps all lined up in front of a Wellington, but George tells me that W/O Bottons crew are not on it. It is possible that the crew were flying the day the photo was taken."
The official Crash Record Card provides more information about the incident.
"a/c left Chivenor for Benbecula at 11.28hrs. Duration of flight 3hrs. Petrol endurance 7.5hrs. Last heard on w/t 15.05 hrs - corrupt signal. a/c missing"
Click here for the full Crash Record Card
Source: RAF Museum
The record shows that the plane was a Wellington Mk XIV, No.WB915 that was carrying a total of eight people - the crew of six, plus two passengers. It confirms that it was making the journey as part of the 'transit move of squadron' from Devon to the Outer Hebrides. The plane made radio contact when it was already 37minutes overdue, but the signal was 'corrupt' (no message is recorded) and the plane was not heard from or seen again.
George Robert is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission - George Robert Archbold
Royal Air Force 36 Squadron Association
Royal Air Force - History, 36 Squadron