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Mission: Evening cross - country flight.

Date: 27
th January 1944

Time: 22.45 hours.

Unit: No.84 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Vickers Wellington X

Serial No. HZ484

Base: Desborough, Northamptonshire.

Location: Arthingworth, Northamptonshire, England.

Pilot: F/Lt James Hughes Kirton 41771 (Captain & pupil pilot) Age.27 – Killed.

Nav: F/O Donald Edward Blunt 151908 Age.23 – Killed.

Air/Bmr: F/O Frederick Walter Jones 152726 Age.21 – Killed.

W/Op/A/Gnr: John Orr 1346229 Age.21 – Killed.

A/Gnr: Sgt Arthur Leslie True-love Butler 1892533 Age.20 – Killed.

A/Gnr: Sgt Joseph Donald Kennedy 1875897


Aircraft dived into the ground during a training flight. The investigation could not ascertain the cause of the accident owing to the lack of evidence, but evidence from the wreckage suggests that the aircraft dived almost vertically into the ground from a considerable height, exploding on impact. Sadly the entire crew were killed.

NOTE: Wellington HZ484 was built to contract 92439/40 by Vickers Armstrong's Ltd at Blackpool and delivered to 431 Squadron at Burn in April 1943. Later in 1943 it was subsequently transferred to 466 Squadron at Driffield and 300 Squadron at Ingham before arriving at 432 Squadron at East Moor in mid-September 1943.

On 8th October 1943 this Wellington took off from East Moor airfield in the evening for Ops to Hannover in what would be one of the heavy attacks on the German city in the whole of the War. On their return leg at 01.35hrs the aircraft was attacked by a Junkers Ju88, the crew of the Wellington shook off the attack but later it was attacked for a second time by another enemy aircraft in which damage was sustained to the Wellington. The rear gunner of the Wellington returned fire and scored hits and the enemy aircraft was seen to crash with fire coming from its port engine. The Wellington was able to return to East Moor and land in the early hours without further incident and damaged was assessed and declared as Cat.B/FB. 

Front Row first left Jim Kirton
Young James Kirton pictured here, front row, first left in the school rugby team 1933-34

Radio/Op 21 year old John Orr
cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc Air/Gunner Joseph Donald Kennedy

Photo taken from the general area of the crash site pictured in 2012 (Brownless)

Shattered Perspex still litters the field (Brownless)

Picture 036
At the local cemetery at Desborough, the graves of the pilot James Kirton together with his navigator Donald Blunt lie side by side. The graves are kept in very good order (Brownless)

Picture 033cccPicture 034

Burial detail:


James Hughes Kirton. Sec. H. Grave 1.
Son of James Hughes Kirton and Violet Kathleen Kirton; husband of Frances Kirton of Barnt Green, Worcestershire.

Donald Edward Blunt. Sec. H. Grave 3. Son of Frank Edward and Janet H. Blunt, of Harrow, Middlesex.

The other members of the crew were taken to their local cemeteries for burial:


Frederick Walter Jones. Grave 416. Son of Richard John and Dorothy Alice Jones, of Kelvedon.


John Orr. Sec. S. Grave 2531. Son of Robert and Jessie Orr, of Kilmarnock.


Arthur Leslie True-love Butler. Sec. H. Grave 22. Son of Benjamin and Ada Evelyn Butler, of Lupset, Wakefield.

Joseph Donald Kennedy

Investigated, researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless 2012, with special thanks to the relatives of James Kirton and Joseph Kennedy for their contribution, updated July 2013.
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and heritage at The British Library.