Sergeant Donald Enright Soles
By Bill Soles
This article was originally published in the December 2000 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
R/64339, 57 (R A F), Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force
Died Wednesday 3rd September 1941, age 26
Son of William and Lilion Soles
Husband of Helen Soles of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Buried in Wittleford Church Yard, Cambridgeshire
Sergeant Donald E Soles was a member of the crew of a Wellington bomber which crashed near Stapleford whilst returning from a raid on Frankfurt in the early hours of 3rd September 1941, all on board were killed.
Information from Air Historical Branch Archives records show that Sergeant Soles was the Air Gunner on Wellington Bomber Mark II No W-5434. This aircraft took off from its base at RAF Feltwell, Norfolk 20:25 hours on 2nd September 1941 for a night raid on Frankfurt. The aircraft was returning from this raid when, at 03:20 hours on 3rd September, it flew into a house in bad visibility at Bars Lane in Stapleford, Cambridgeshire. The aircraft accident card (Form AM 1180) concluded that the loss of control of the aircraft was probably due to a stall but stated that the poor weather conditions were also a contributing factor. All of the crew were sadly killed. Their full details are as follows:
AUS 402239 Sgt L T Hutchison RAAF- Captain/Pilot
1058392 Sgt F McNeill- 2nd Pilot
R58836 F/Sgt L T Lawson RCAF- 1st Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
R 60667 F/Sgt A C Turgeon RCAF-2nd Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
925452 Sgt F K Crossley- Air Observer
R 64339 Sgt D E Soles RCAF- Air Gunner
A tapestry plaque bearing squadron badge and the names of the crew is now displayed in Stapleford Church. The dedication of the plaque took place in 1970 and was attended by members of the squadron. The names of the crew and all men of Stapleford who were lost in the wars are now remembered each Remembrance Sunday and poppies are placed on their graves.
Sergeant Donald E Soles daughter, Donna, was born just 3 days before the crash. A telegram informing him of the birth was returned to his parents unopened.
I wrote to the last known address of his parents and his daughter replied. She said she was thrilled to receive my letter and promised to send me a photograph of her father and other details. She said her mother and grand parents had died and she lived alone. She said the dedication ceremony was reported in a local newspaper and she was invited to attend, but she feared flying and turned the offer down. This she now regrets. She hopes we could research her family and perhaps put her in touch with relatives, if she has any.
We have not been able to make any contact with Donna for several months now. It seems she is not at home, but we shall press on with the research.
I am grateful to Tony and Maureen Storey for bringing this memorial to my notice and for photographing the tapestry plaque which is displayed in Stapleford Church. The research has been undertaken by Bill Soles, Tony and Maureen Storey.
Some information was taken from the book Bomber Squadrons at War by Geoff Copeman
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