Twenty one year old New Yorker Scott G Cleveland arrived on “A” Flight of No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron on April 23rd 1943 via No.1657 Conversion Unit, RAF Stradishall, within three weeks of his arrival he would be killed.
Scott’s pilot was Sergeant T Nicholls who had completed four 2nd pilot trips in total before the fateful crash of May 14th. The crews first operation was a mine laying sortie on May 4th aboard Short Stirling BF405 HA-P, this was followed by a raid on Bochum on May 13th 1943. The crew of Sergeant T Nicholls were attacked and damaged by a night fighter (see combat report) while crossing the Belgian-German border on route to target. During the encounter, Sergeant John Howard the crew’s rear gunner was killed. Although badly damaged by cannon fire the crew managed to evade the fighter and jettison the bomb load and turn for home. The young pilot brought the Stirling back over the English coast to within sight of safety, with fuel desperately low due to damage fuel tanks, Sergeant Nichols decided to diverted to RAF Chedburgh.
With both flaps and undercarriage damaged the pilot showing considerable skill managed to line up on Chedburghs runway for a belly landing. In the early morning light and with a landing only a matter of seconds away all four Hercules engines suddenly cut out starved of fuel. The stricken Stirling hit a tree and crashed on the edge of the airfield, the time was 04.00hrs. As the Stirling disintegrated five of the crew who had taken up crash positions were flung clear of the wreckage. The pilot was pulled out from amongst the burning wreckage severely injured having sustained a broken left femur numerous lacerations and severe shock. He was admitted to the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds dangerously ill. Sergeants Hargest, bomb aimer, Cleveland mid upper and Jamieson, wireless operator all received multiple injuries and died on impact. Sergeant D.Wurr, flight engineer received multiple wounds in the crash and died soon after being admitted to hospital. Miraculously Pilot Officer Edward Pierce the crew’s New Zealand navigator sustained only a sprained left ankle and emotional shock, he was the only member of the crew not to be thrown out from the aircraft on impact, he was admitted to station sick quarters at RAF Chedburgh and sedated for 48 hours. The Short Stirling Mk.I EF367 HA-G was almost new having only flown a total of 3 hours 35 minutes.
Son of Grover Harrison Cleveland and Millie Pearl Cleveland of Sidney Center, New York. USA
Grave : Sec U. Grave 247 Haverhill Cemetery.