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built Mark I Lockheed Hudson, NR-L (N7310), which was
flown by Pilot Richard Harris and Co-pilot Gerald Towe
who were accompanied by crew members Howard Street and
Wilfred Wood. All four men were killed on the morning
of the 19th March 1941, when their aircraft crashed into
a hillside in the Orkney Isles. Picture courtesy of Malcolm
Sergeant Gerald Edward
Gerald Edward Towe was born on 5th August 1918, and was
baptised on the 3rd May 1925 at Thurmaston parish church.
His parents were Isaac Daniel Towe and his wife Bertha Alice
Towe. At the age of 20, in 1938, Gerald joined the Royal
Air Force Volunteer Reserve, whilst he was working for the
Market Department of Leicester Corporation.
On the morning of the 19th March 1941, at 05:55 hours, a
Mark I Lockheed Hudson of 220 Squadron RAF Coastal Command
became airborne as it left its base at RAF Wick,
Scotland. Aboard the aeroplane was its Pilot Richard Harris,
along with Co-Pilot Gerald Towe, and two other crew members
Howard Street and Wilfred Wood.
The crew had been tasked to provide escort cover for the
St. Bertrand. Unfortunately, at 06:20 hours the aircraft
flew into a cloud covered hillside at Withi Gill,
approximately four and a half miles north west of Tor Ness
lighthouse, Hoy, Orkney Isles. All four crew members were
Due to poor weather conditions the wreck of the aeroplane
was not discovered on the hillside until the day after the
crash. The bodies of all four men were recovered and each
was interred in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney.
Gerald Edward Towe was a
member of the congregation at Thurmaston Parish Church.
After his death, in May 1941 the parish magazine carried
the following contribution in his memory. The words of the
poem give us a sense of where he lays:
On a wind-swept isle they
By the side of a tree in bud.
The only sounds are the cry of a gull
And the song of a thrush to the spring.
In the village church they remembered him,
The lad so blith and free;
They had loved him well, they love him still
As he sleeps on a sun-drenched hill.
On a lonely isle, he's sleeping
Mid the sun, the wind and the rain.
The tree stands guard, the gull dips low
While the thrush sings his song to the spring.
Ross McNeill, author of RAF Coastal Command Losses, Volume
1. See RAF
Malcolm Barrass. See Air
Steve Clements, for producing the 220 Squadron Badge.
The badge is © Crown Copyright and is reproduced with
of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office
of Alan Clark
The Crew of Lockheed Hudson NR-L (N7310), 220 Squadron,
RAF Coastal Command, killed in action on the 19th March
Sergeant, 741443, (Pilot) Richard Douglas Harris, R.A.F.V.R.,
aged 24 years, son of Robert William and Grace Elizabeth
Harris of Hardwicke, Cambridgeshire. He is buried in Lyness
Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney - Plot P. Row 3. Grave 28.
Sergeant, 742440, (Co-Pilot), Gerald Edward Towe, R.A.F.V.R.,
aged 22 years, son of Isaac Daniel and Bertha Alice Towe,
of 1, Forest Avenue, Thurmaston. He was a former pupil
of Wyggeston School, Leicester, and he had an interest
in cycle racing. He is buried in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery,
Orkney Plot P. Row 3. Grave 27.
Sergeant, 751856, Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner, Wilfred
Wood, R.A.F.V.R., aged 23 years, son of John Alfred and
Lucy Wood of Hull, and husband of Doreen Jane Wood of
Hull. He is buried in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney
- Plot P. Row 3. Grave 25.
Howard Collard Street was born in West Hartlepool, County
Durham, in 1917. He was the son of William John Street
and his wife Emily May, nee Jones. Sergeant, 751912, Wireless
Operator/ Air Gunner, Howard Collard Street, R.A.F.V.R.,
is buried in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney - Plot
P. Row 3. Grave 26.
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