LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Brian Price WICKS

Service No: 416815
Born: Unley Park SA, 21 July 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 September 1941
Unit: No. 576 Squadron (RAF), RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 576 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM322), Lincolnshire, 16 December 1943, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Horace Arthur and Ada Olive Wicks, of Highgate, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unley SA
Remembered: Panel 132, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

On the night of 16/17th December 1943, Lancaster LM322 took off from RAF Elsham Wolds, detailed to bomb Berlin. Just after take off an accident occurred when LM322 collided with Lancaster JB670 from 103 Squadron (RAF) that had RAAF Member Flight Sergeant Thomas Leslie Hobson Kay (413390) (Air Bomber) on board. The crews in both aircraft were killed in the accident.

A report into the Flying accident stated: “The accident occurred at dusk just after take off about 5 miles north east of Elsham Wolds. The two aircraft followed each other off with an interval of one minute between. Visibility was moderate, with cloud base at 1,000 feet, and thickness about 1000 feet. Some three minutes after the aircraft had taken off they collided, the collision occurred at a distance of 4 to 5 miles bearing 080 degrees to the take off runway, either at the base of, or in low cloud. Pilots were instructed to climb through the cloud in the direction of take off, before circling the drome. Why these two aircraft did not do so is not known.”

The Station Commander at Elsham Wolds stated: “It is considered that this accident was due to the disobeying of instructions and should never have occurred. All Captains were briefed that under no circumstances were they to circle below or in cloud but to climb straight ahead after take off. The cloud base was at 1,000 feet and the depth of cloud was not more that 1300 feet. Both these aircraft were seen to circle about 4 miles from the drome immediately after take off, and immediately after take off start to climb through cloud on roughly the reciprocal of their take off. Owing to the fact that there are no survivors, it is impossible to state which aircraft actually caused the collision.”

The crew members of LM322 were:

Sergeant John Hamilton Caldwell (1370276) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant George Gordon Critchley (1515736) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Stanley Victor Cull (1814522) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Peter Martin Crowle Ellis (1388790) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant Joseph William Ross (1804080) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Frederick Roy Scott (413903) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Brian Price Wicks (416815) (Mid Upper Gunner)

Other RAAF members serving with No. 576 Squadron were lost on 16 December 1943 with Lancaster DV382 (Flying Officer Geoffrey Livingstone Blackmore (422388) (Navigator)).

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/43/450

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