Don Macfarlane remembers:

On 17th May, 1940, twelve aircraft of 82 Squadron, based at Watton, in Norfolk, took off to attack troop concentrations at Gembloux, Belgium, where the German army was sweeping West towards the Channel ports. Eleven of them were shot down and the survivor, badly damaged, managed to reach Watton, but it was written off due to the damage sustained. Fortunately, for me, my name did not appear on the flying programme for that day! Shortly afterwards, replacement crews and aircraft arrived at the Station, including R3821, which was painted with the wartime 82 Squadron code – UX, and given the individual letter – N.

Pictured is R3821 with left to right, Sgt. Don A.W. McFarlane, Observer, Sgt. Peter K. Eames, Wireless operator/airgunner and Pilot Officer Donald M. Wellings, Pilot, in flying kit by R 3821. On 22 October1940, Eames and McFarlane were awarded the D.F.M., Wellings the D.F.C. 
Pictured is R3821 with left to right, Sgt. Don A.W. McFarlane, Observer, Sgt. Peter K. Eames, Wireless operator/airgunner and Pilot Officer Donald M. Wellings, Pilot, in flying kit by R 3821. On 22 October 1940, Eames and McFarlane were awarded the D.F.M., Wellings the D.F.C.

Unluckily for her, (if I may call a beautiful aircraft “her”) she lasted only from May to August, and was lost on 13th August when eleven aircraft of 82 Squadron were shot down during a raid to Aalborg aerodrome in Northern Denmark. This time my crew did appear on the flying programme, but by an amazing stroke of luck, we were informed as we were running up the engines, that all three of us had been posted, and that the spare crew would take our places. They did not return.

The total flying life of R382l amounted to some 45 hours and I was privileged to fly in her for just over 36 of those hours, mainly with the same Pilot and Wireless Operator/Airgunner. Most of the operations we carried out in her were pretty standard at that time, North Sea sweeps, and attacks on the German army overrunning NW Europe, but possibly of interest are two which are highlighted in my memory”

In 1995, while laying a cable across Aalborg airfield, the trenching machine caught the tip of a propeller. The video below, shows what happened when the Danish Police, led by our great friend Ole Ronnest, investigated the discovery  of R3821 (the actual aircraft in the picture above) in September 1995.

7 thoughts on “Video: 1995 – The discovery, and recovery of Blenheim R3821 UX-N”

  1. my grandads brother was sergeant David John LEES. no565583. he was in 82 squadron on 17th may 1940. age 25. took off from Watton,shot down by German bf-109 fighter plane. and killed over Lappion France.with David was Kenneth gordon reed (also died in the crash) and l.h.watkins who managed to evade capture and return to England. more info (file. air81/401 ) David is buried at Lappion churchyard Aisne France. he was my mothers cousin.

  2. My great Uncle, LEADING AIRCRAFTMAN PETER RAYMOND VICTOR ETTERSHANK, was unfortunately on one of those bombers from 82 squadron shot down the first time 82 Squadron lost 11 aircraft on one raid. May he rest in peace, gone but never forgotten.

  3. I wish our paths had crossed. I have a copy of THE SQUADRON THAT DIED TWICE, and that is a good read too. Lots of things for me to learn from a visit to Watton, and from Duxford too.

  4. Hello Julian Horn

    I wish I had gone to Watton with the other members of my family who travelled from Canada when the Rebuilt (from a Canadian Bolingbroke) N-UX R3821 flew from Duxford to RAF Watton!

    I was able to be there in Denmark when the great people of the Restoration Company flew their rebuilt U-XN R3821 to Aalborg, Denmark. Quite an amazing time for me. Ole Ronnest is a great friend with his enormous efforts to find the exact locations of all of the 11 Blenheim Bombers shot down that day, and then to gather up all the information he found. For our family, to go from no information to so much was certainly a great comfort to our family, especially Earl’s sisters, my Grandmother and Great Aunts.
    The Video is worth the time to watch, as the items uncovered are surprising. The parachutes, and the small items like the pocket knife so well preserved by the peat soil. Ole was the Detective in charge of bomb disposal at the crash site in 1995. It is Ole who is washing the parts at the sink. I understood from Ole, that there is even more information he has added to the book we were given in Aalborg. Is this book available to buy? Please reply.

    1. Hi Dean,
      It would have been really good to see you at Watton, sadly I wasn’t able to be at Denmark for the return otherwise our paths would have crossed. I was able to go in 2013 when Memorials were dedicated three crews at the crash points by a local history group.
      Ole’s book has never been published so is not available to general public although another book “The Squadron the Died Twice” bases a lot of its information from Ole.
      Earl, Alf and
      I will email you direct in the next couple of days.

  5. Is this the Squadron that lost twice, wiped out on two raids . Not seen that photo before and I have many of the Blenheim.
    My father was Wop/Ag with 101 Squadron September 1940 to May 1941 and then with 114 Squadron in North Africa Nov 1942-May 1943 and 13 Squadron May 43-August 1943. The Blenheim boys don’t get the recognition they deserve and human sacrifices they made flying daylight raids with no escort and shot down by Axis fighters all for 4/250lb bombs a few 40lb incendiaries over heavily defended targets, pressing home their attacks despite poor defensive armament.

    1. Hi Neilan, yes 82 Squadron lost 11 of 12 A/C – 17th May 1940 and then again 13th August 1940. This image is not one of those in general circulation, and we got this copy from Don Macfarlane the Observer in the picture. WOp/AGs had an especially tough time – it has been my joy to have met many of the survivors from 21 and 82 over the years at the reunions at Watton.
      Are you aware of the Blenheim Society? they do a great job in trying to make sure the Blenheim Boys are not forgotten.
      There is a lot more material to come to the site but time is my enemy!

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