REDDICLIFFE, Francis Henry

Sergeant (Navigator/Bomb Aimer)
RAFVR in RAF (New Zealand) 75 Squadron
Killed on Active Duty on Friday 9th April 1943
Aged 28

"For ever and ever, be strong"

Born in Kirkby on 15th April 1915 ( West Derby, Lancs Q2-1915 8b:494), the son of Harold Gelsthorpe and Vera Ramsden REDDICLIFFE (née WHITTY) of 32 North Park Road, Kirkby, Lancashire. He had qualified as an accountant before volunteering for the RAF.
In the 1939 register, a chartered accountant, he was at The Ben, Whiston Road, Kirkby with his father (canned goods merchant), his mother and sister Sheila [19] a student.

Short Stirling Mk3 BK770 c/s AA-L was delivered to No.75 Sqdn 2/4/1943. This was the first Stirling Mk3 to be lost by 75 Sqdn. Nine aircraft were detailed to carry out a raid on Duisburg, in the Ruhr, with bombs of 1000 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. Four of the aircraft however were forced to return early owing to severe icing conditions, which prevented the aircraft from gaining height. Four of the remaining aircraft successfully bombed the target through cloud. Large fires were seen glowing below the clouds. A fair amount of heavy predicted A.A.Fire was encountered, some enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was 10/10ths cloud, with electrical storms, rain and severe icing, which prevented this operation from being a complete success.
Airborne at 21:30 on 8/4/1943 from Newmarket 'AA:L' and her crew of seven survived the raid and were almost back home to their base at Newmarket Heath. They had made radio contact with the Squadron at 1:10 am reporting their progress home and all seemed well. Nothing more was heard from AA:L, but then while overflying Diss, just 30 miles from home, the aircraft went out of control and entered a near-vertical dive, crashing at Valley Farm, Bressingham, 3 miles WNW of Diss. The cause of the loss of control of the aircraft is still unknown. An oak tree now stands at the site of the crash as a permanent memorial to the crew who were:
W/O J.A.E.Walsh RNZAF KIA; Sgt J.H.Worthington KIA; F/S B.A.Moffatt RCAF KIA; Sgt F.H.Reddicliffe KIA; Sgt J.W.Scudder KIA; Sgt S.A.Curtis KIA; Sgt P.G.Stuart RCAF KIA.
The three Commonwealth airmen, along with Sgt Reddicliffe and Sgt Curtis, are buried in Newmarket Cemetery. The others were taken to their home towns.

Francis is buried in Newmarket Cemetery in grave P:415

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details