Despite there being a great deal of information available regarding the accident and the aircraft itself, the same cannot be said of the crew. The following is the extent of the information I have on each of the men who died on 30th September 1954.
The funerals of Fg Off S Persad, P Off JHH Green and Sgt HPS Fowler took place on 5th October 1954 at the church of St Nicholas, Thorney Island. They were buried with full military honours.
On 7th October, Fg Off EA Dench was buried at Waltham Cross in Essex. Thorney Island's Station Commander was represented by Sqn Ldr CJ Landrey. The funeral of Sgt GHE Davies took place the same day, at Ilford in Essex. Flt Lt RC Barlow represented the Station Commander.
Sergeant Henry PS Fowler
Sergeant Henry PS Fowler (service number 4097579) was the pilot of XA271 and 29 years old at the time of the accident. He was born in 1925 in Eastbourne (his mother nee Dennett). He married Elsie M Brooks in 1947, the marriage registered in Norwich Outer. Prior to arrival at Thorney Island, Sgt Fowler had completed No.33 SP Course at the Central Navigation & Control School, RAF Shawbury. His flying experience at the time of the accident was as follows:
1191 flying hours, plus 90 hours in Link Trainer
141 hours as first pilot on Marathon
5 hours as second pilot on Marathon
10 hours dual on Marathon
142 total hours as first pilot in last six months/total
5 hours as second pilot in last six months/9 total
31 by instruments in last six months/133 total
11 by Link Trainer in last six months.
He had a ‘Green’ Instrument Rating, assessed as ‘average’. Sgt Henry Fowler was buried at West Thorney, West Sussex.
Pilot Officer James Henry Hurlstone Green
Pilot Officer James Henry Hurlstone Green (4117635) was XA271’s Staff Navigator and was sitting in the copilot’s seat at the time of the accident. He was born in 1931 (possibly in Edinburgh). His RAF career can be traced via various promotions as follows: to Acting Pilot Officer on probation as cadet navigator (4 yrs active, 4 yrs reserve) on 15th June 1953 (period of service to count from 17 December 1952). Then he was Confirmed in his appointment and regraded as a Pilot Officer on 12th March 1954.
His residence at the time of his death was given as 62 Clermiston Road, Corstophine, Edinburgh. The probate of his estate was settled in London on 23rd February 1955 and stated, “sealed confirmation Andrew Duncan Hurlstone Green, student”.
Pilot Officer Green was buried at West Thorney in West Sussex.
Flying Officer Eric Arthur Dench
Flying Officer Eric Arthur Dench (3108353) was one of two Student Navigators aboard XA271 and was seated in the 1st Navigator station at the time of the crash. Born in 1927 at Edmonton in Buckinghamshire, he was commissioned in the RAF Education Branch as a short service Pilot Officer (5 yrs active, 4 yrs reserve) on 16th February 1949. He was promoted to Flying Officer on 16th February 1950 and appointed to a permanent commission for transfer to the General Duties branch on 1st April 1952. He was then Gazzetted as transferred to the GD Branch on 6th August 1954 with seniority from 10th October 1953.
His residence at the time of his death was 53 Cameron Drive, Waltham Cross. His probate (London, 10th February 1955) showed effects to the value of £375 19s 7d left to Reginald Stephen Thomas Dench, a retired accounts clerk, presumably his father.
Flying Officer Dench was buried at Waltham Cross in Essex (Waltham Abbey Cemetery?)
Pilot Officer Sumair Persad
Pilot Officer Sumair Persad (4037883). The second of two Student Navigators on XA271, he was seated in the 2nd Navigator station when the aircraft crashed. Born in 1929 in the British West Indies, Persad’s early life is not easy to trace. However he appears to have arrived in the UK as a student, disembarking at Southampton from the ship Washington on 31st March 1949 via a stop in New York. At that time he was 19 years of age and listed his intended residence as 16 Agar Grove London NW1. A seaborne departure is then recorded at Southampton aboard the Golfito, bound for Trinidad on 25th September 1952, at which point (aged 23) he is listed as a Sergeant in the RAF and based at RAF St Eval.
He then gained a commission, being Gazetted as an Acting Pilot Officer on probation as cadet pilot [sic] (8 yrs active, 4 yrs reserve) on 8th July 1953 (period of service to count from 8 Apr 1953). The reference to being a pilot cadet is noteworthy, since it is obvious that at some point he was transferred to be a Navigator. He was next confirmed in his appointment and regraded as Pilot Officer on 6th August 1954. Around this time he was out of the country and arrived back at Liverpool aboard the RMS Franconia from Quebec on 19th August 1954. His occupation at this point (at age 24) was listed on the ship’s manifest as ‘RAF’ and his location as ‘Air Ministry, London’, and so it seems likely that he then proceeded to Navigator training at Thorney Island, following an earlier training posting in Canada.
Pilot Officer Persad was buried at West Thorney in West Sussex
Sergeant Gordon HE Davies
Sergeant Gordon HE Davies (3033096) was an RAF Air Gunner and listed as a passenger aboard XA271 and located in the centre section of the aircraft at the time of the crash. He was born in 1926 but little is known about him. It is possible that he married Joycelyn VI Reeves at West Ham, Essex in 1950 (a GHE Davies is listed thus in the General Register of Marriages), but nothing else is known.
Sergeant Davies was buried at Ilford Cemetery in Essex.