Bromley RAF hero commemorated in Bognor Regis after tragic World War II plane crash

PUBLISHED: 12:10 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:10 04 November 2016

A photo of the plane flown by Sgt Culmer

A photo of the plane flown by Sgt Culmer


RAFA members hope to hear from relatives of the airman who may have more information about him

The plaque that bears Sgt Culmer's nameThe plaque that bears Sgt Culmer's name

A heroic RAF pilot from Bromley who died in a plane crash in the Second World War will be commemorated in Bognor Regis on Remembrance Sunday, close to the site where his aircraft came down.

Sgt Stanley Wilson Charles Culmer, 26, was flying a Handley-Page Hampden AT110 on a mission to attack shipping and the docks at Le Havre on the night of April 14, 1942 - but the plane never reached its destination.

Just one hour after taking off from RAF North Luffenham in Rutland, the bomber came down near Bognor Regis, killing Sgt Culmer and three other crew members.

As the nation prepares to remember its fallen heroes, RAF Association member David Hewings is hoping to trace relatives of the crew who may be unaware of the airmen’s achievements.

He told the Bromley Times: “We are hoping that some information will come from any relatives still in Bromley. We would be very pleased to talk to them. We want them to know that these young airmen are remembered and have been for some time.”

Little is known about the cause of the accident, although eyewitness reports suggest an engine caught fire.

Flying at such a low altitude, the crew would have had no chance to escape.

“There is a local newspaper article about the incident,” Mr Hewings said. “All it says is there was a conflagration which occurred that night and burned for five or six hours.

“They were crossing the coast at 200ft. We have no evidence, but that was the technique at the time to go under the German radar.

“Once you get over the South Downs you are almost at sea level - the ground is low. It makes sense they would come down as soon as they could.

“You go down over the ground so you are not shot out of the air.”

Sgt Culmer is commemorated on a memorial plaque close to the point where the aircraft came down, along with Sgt R E Nation, from Canford, Bristol, Sgt J A Hutchison from North Berwick, and Sgt D Manning from Backford, Chester.

“Sgt Culmer was the most important one that we want to find information about,” Mr Hewings said. “He was the senior man and they probably called him ‘uncle’.”

Mr Hewings added that the people of Bognor Regis have never forgotten the airmen and the sacrifice they made in defence of the country’s freedom.

“We think about them every year on remembrance weekend,” he said.

Anyone with information on Sgt Culmer can send it by post to the RAF Association, Branch 381, Waterloo Square, Bognor Regis, West Sussex BN21 1TE.

Envelopes should be marked “Hampden Memorial” and include contact details, including an email address if possible.

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