Image taken from the Evening Star – 10th September 1941
Born: 23rd January 1908, Ipswich.
Died: 4th September 1941; age: 33; at On approach to the runway, in the fog and dark the aircraft undershot, stalled and collided with trees at Turnbull’s Farm, East Chevington, Morpeth, Northumberland.
Residence: 16, Melbourne Road, Ipswich.
Occupation: Motor Mechanic – in the Garage Department of the Ipswich Industrial Co-operative Society.
Rank: Sergeant/Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; Service Number: 755408.
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 58 Squadron.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Oliver James Steggall & Edith Helena Steggall, of Ipswich.
1911 98, Kemball Street, Ipswich.
Charles was 3 years old and living with his parents & brother.
Oliver James Steggall, 35, an Engineer’s Turner – General Engineers – Ransome, Sims & Jefferies Ltd., born Ipswich.
Edith Helena Steggall (nee Crispe Bone), born Little Fransham, Norfolk.
John Hacon Steggall, 5, born Ipswich.
Charles’ father Oliver James Steggall, died January 1930, at 98, Kemball Street, Ipswich.
ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER 1939.
Charles was an Undertaker, and also mobilised – R.A.F.V.R. – Leading Aircraftman – 755408. He was living at 53, York Road, Ipswich, the family home of Rosetta Ellen Catchpole, born January 1880, Ipswich, and her daughter, Rosetta Mildred Catchpole, born February 1918, Ipswich, a Short Hand Typist.
Probate to Kathleen Mary Steggall – sister, of 16, Melbourne Road, Ipswich. A Clerk and Typist – Confectioners.
17th/18th April 1941
Charles was on the aircraft Whitby Mk T4 266 GE-O, returning from a bombing raid on Berlin on the night of the 17th/18th April 1941. The aircraft was hit by flak over Hamburg which damaged the port engine. The starboard motor seized and caught fire. Pilot Officer Andrew Allison Law ditched the aircraft into the North Sea. On the 20th April a Hudson spotted the crew in their dinghy and dropped a bag of brandy, biscuits and cigarettes. A Hampden later dropped Lindholme rescue gear. At 22.30 on the 20th the exhausted and hungry crew were rescued by ASR launch, some sixty four hours after they had ditched in the sea.
7th August 1941
Charles was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on a Whitley Z6835 returning from an operational flight to Frankfurt, when an engine cut out on an attempted overshoot. Having no power to climb away the aircraft struck a hanger and crashed. Damage was deemed enough to write it off. The aircraft was recorded as having Cat.E/FB damage, the “F.B.” would suggest that the aircraft had been damaged by the enemy prior to arriving at Linton on Ouse.
Evening Star – 10th September 1941
IPSWICH AIRMAN’S DEATH
Wing Commander’s Tribute To Sergt. C.O. Steggall
Mr. Charles O. Steggall, of 16, Melbourne Road, Ipswich, whose death while serving in the Royal Air Force has been announced was formerly employed in the garage department of the Ipswich Industrial Co-operative Society. At the outbreak of the war he volunteered for service in the R.A.F., becoming a wireless operator and air gunner, with the rank of sergeant.
Tribute to Sergt. Steggall’s achievements in the R.A.F. is contained in a letter received from his Wing-Commander. Sergt. Steggall, states the letter, “Had done some very fine work on operations over enemy territory. We shall miss him a very great deal. His enthusiasm for his job, and his grit and determination had inspired all with whom he came in contact.”
4th September 1941
Aircraft – Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V; Serial number – 26869 GT.E. At 19.21 the aircraft took off from R.A.F. Linton-on-Ouse as part of the 4th wave en route to Brest. Their target were the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Greisenau and Prinz Eugen. Due to worsening weather conditions the sortie were recalled and diverted to R.A.F. Acklington airfield. On approach to the runway, in the fog and dark the aircraft undershot, stalled and collided with trees 1 mile short of the runway at Turnbull’s Farm, bursting into flames. The fire brigade, ambulance and the East Chevington auxiliary fire brigade arrived. 4 of the crew were killed. The Rear Gunner was the sole survivor
Pilot Officer; Andrew Allison Law; age 24; R.A.F.V.F. On his 29th sortie.
Flight Sergeant; Wallace Holland Trewin; age 24; R.C.A.F.
Sergeant; Robert Lawrence Ward; age 21; R.C.A.F.
Pilot Officer/Rear Gunner; Edward Dmitri Comber-Higgs; age 31; R.A.F.V.R. – Survived.
Funerals for Charles, William Trevin and Robert Ward took place on the 7th September 1941, at Chevington Cemtery, Red Row – conducted by Chaplain J. Wright, R.A.F. Andrew Law was laid to rest at Edinburgh (Morningside) Cemetery.
The crew are remembered on the memorial in the former RAF Acklington Church, St. John the Divine, Red Row. Unveiled on the 7th May 2011.
Almost Forgotten: The Search for Aviation Accidents in Northumberland
By Chris Davies