Corporal Francis Neville Sloss (1544915) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was a wireless technician, part of the ground crew in RAF Pathfinder 83 Squadron.
He was the son of Francis Alexander Sloss and Alice Mary Frances Violet Sloss of Bangor, Co. Down.
On 18th June 1943, Sloss was an observer on board Avro Lancaster I ED439 OL-N when it crashed at Highgate Farm, Swaton, Lincolnshire. He was 19 years old.
The Lancaster’s pilot was Australian Flight Sergeant Max Kieran Cummings. They were new to RAF 83 Squadron at RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire. Recently posted from RAF 467 Squadron at RAF Bottesford, Leicestershire, they completed a night raid on Cologne, Germany, the previous night.
Lancaster ED439 Crash
At 1010hrs on 18th June 1943, Cummings; crew took off for “daytime bombing practise”. Research suggests the crew tested new equipment as Sloss was one of two ground technicians joining the seven-man crew.
Eyewitnesses report the Lancaster dived from low cloud into the farm near Scredington. The plane clipped the roof of an unoccupied farmhouse before crashing into the fields behind. It struck a copse of trees and burst into flames.
Locals arrived to offer help but the flames and debris suggested there was little they could do. Ammunition from the plane began to explode creating further danger for those on the ground.
Neil Trotter was a 7-year-old pupil at a nearby primary school and saw the plane pass low overhead. He remembered seeing an open escape hatch with an airman debating whether to bale out. His mother was one of the first on the scene at the crash site. His father served on an RAF base nearby.
As well as Francis Neville Sloss, all seven members of the Lancaster’s crew and another technician died.
- Pilot Flight Sergeant Max Kieran Cummings (408904) RAAF
- Navigator Sergeant Francis William Wilcox (537936)
- Flight Engineer Sergeant Henry Whitfield Luker (6765) RAAF
- Bomb Aimer Sergeant John Roughley (1431821)
- Wireless Operator Sergeant Harry William Cheshire (1336708)
- Mid-Upper Gunner Sergeant Norman Woodcock (1588938)
- Rear Gunner Flight Sergeant Robert Allan Taylor (R/113958) RCAF
- Instrument Technician Corporal Thomas John Bond (1024724)
Remembering Francis Neville Sloss
Francis Nevin Sloss’ grave is in Section 1D, Grave 17 of Bangor New Cemetery, Bangor, Co. Down. His headstone bears the inscription “at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them”.
His name is also on a memorial plaque in Scredington Parish Church, Lincolnshire. The church unveiled the memorial on 16th June 2013, seventy years after the incident. Two years of research and planning preceded the unveiling. Rev Chris Harrington, Archdeacon of Lincoln Tim Barker, and Canon Peter Hill led the service. Relatives of those killed attended the ceremony where cadets laid wreaths for each of those lost. There followed a flypast from the Lancaster, Spitfire, and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. On 19th June 2016, local residents joined Cadets of 2160 (Sleaford) Squadron and 17 (Coningsby) Squadron for a memorial service in the church.