A Yank in the RAF
Daniel Bennington has contacted the project to see if anyone can help him locate the crash site of a plane that his grandfather was flying in the skies over Norfolk in June 1941. Although this happened some six months before America entered the war, Daniel’s search for information is of great interest to the Eighth in the East as it shows how American pilots were already in the UK before the events at Pearl Harbour changed the course of the war. Let’s let Daniel take up the story…
I recently found that my biological grandfather Earnest William Polden was an RAFVR pilot in World War 2. Whilst piloting his Avro Anson plane (based at Bircham Newton) over Cawston, near Norwich, it crashed. This was the 26th June 1941 and the purpose of the flight was to take two cameramen from Twentieth Century Fox to film fighting scenes for a film called A Yank in the RAF. They were filming two Hurricane fighters doing dummy runs. Unfortunately one plane collided with the Avro and both planes came down. Everyone on board perished – including a German cameraman who was buried at an RAF air base (his gravestone bearing his name and that of Twentieth Century Fox).
Earnest Polden died at the young age of just 24. My goal is to visit the site of the crash with my family to pay my respects to our long lost relative.
Can you help Daniel? If you have any information about this incident, the personnel involved or the film they were making then please do get in touch.
Please remember that all military aircraft crash sites are covered by the Protection of Military Remains Act (1986). They may be war graves, contain dangerous unexploded ammunition and in most cases are located on private property. Always ask permission and remember that any investigation or ground disturbance which may affect a military aircraft crash site requires a licence from the Ministry of Defence. English Heritage guidance on military aircraft crash sites can be found at www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/military-aircraft-crash-sites/milaircsites.pdf
Information also from the Institute of Field Archaeologists – 0118 931 6446