These pictures record the funeral of 3 airmen of 21 Squadron, R93513 Sgt. S.B.G. Heron. Pilot R.C.A.F. Aged 20, R65700 Flt. Sgt. G.D. Maluish Air Observer R.C.A.F. Aged 23, 1067562 Sgt. G.E. Step Air Gunner R.A.F. Aged 20.

As far I can be certain, the facts behind these pictures are as follows.

This crew were killed in a flying accident on board Blenheim V5851 of 21 Squadron on July 7th 1942. Having been decimated in Malta, 21 Squadron was officially disbanded in North Africa on 14 March 1942, and reformed at Bodney airfield in Norfolk, that same day. 21 Squadron reformed with Blenheim Mk I’s and IV’s, left behind by 82 Squadron which had departed, while awaiting new Venturas to arrive. At the time of this crash only about three war weary Blenheims were on charge and these were used as ‘squadron hacks’ to move between Watton, Bodney and other bases.

Eye witnesses have related to us that the Blenheim was flying at very low level about 2-3 miles south of the airfield, over the village of Stow Bedon. The land there forms a deep valley and as the aircraft flew up the side of the hill towards the airfield it is said that the aircraft’s tail hit a tree and was ripped off. It does seem unlikely that could happen and it is equally possible that there was a structural failure of the airframe; as far as I am aware no blame was ever attached to any of the crew for the accident.

The aircraft then zoomed skywards before diving into the ground behind a house in Stow Bedon. It was observed that the legs of one of the crew were dangling and waving as if struggling to escape from the camera hatch in the aircraft during the final descent. This would have been the escape hatch for the Wop/AG but sadly he didn’t make it out of the aircraft.

 

Burial Party approach main gates of RAF Watton. Burial took place on 11 July 1942
Burial Party approach main gates of RAF Watton. Burial took place on 11 July 1942

 

Marching down Norwich road. Officers quarters in background.
Marching down Norwich road. Officers quarters in background.
Marching down Norwich road. Officers quarters in background.
Marching down Norwich road. Officers quarters in background.
Arrival at St. Marys. Revd. James Royan conducting service. He was here April 1942 to August 1943
Arrival at St. Marys. Revd. James Royan conducting service. He was here April 1942 to August 1943
Preparation to move coffins to church
Preparation to move coffins to church
Entering church. Presumed relatives following.
Entering church. Presumed relatives following.
The internment.
The internment.
Firing the Volley.
Firing the Volley.
Flowers by the Graves.
Flowers by the Graves.
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4 thoughts on “Funeral Of Sgt. F.B.G. Heron, Flt. Sgt. G.D. Maluish, Sgt. G.E. Step”

  1. I found this extremely interesting, as I am Sgt F.B.G. Heron’s youngest brother. I have know for years that Frank was buried in Watton but never knew any of the circumstances regarding his death because I was just over 1 year old when he died and my parents never discussed the incident. I am so grateful that his final resting place is being looked after. Thank you so much.

  2. Correction:
    Sgt S B G Heron is actually F B G, Frank Brown Graham Heron. I have a photograph of him should you be interested.
    Sgt G D Maluish’ service number is R68700, not R65700, although the Commonwealth War Graves Commision states it as R687000.

    1. Apologies for delay in response to this. You comment found its way into spam because of the given email. Would indeed be interested in Picture of Heron if you read this. Julian

    2. To G Rushman, I would be very interested in receiving a copy of the photograph that you have of Frank and any others from around Watton if you have any.
      They would be very much appreciated.

      Larry Heron

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