Sergeant Reginald William Bodsworth served in 422 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was twenty-nine years old at the time of the Sunderland Flying Boat W6028 crash in Co. Fermanagh.
He was the son of William Robert Hugh Bodsworth and Lottie Bodsworth of Northampton, United Kingdom. He was married Gertrude Bodsworth, also a native of Northampton.
Sunderland W6028 Crash
Bodsworth was part of a crew that took off on 20th February 1944. Their Short Sunderland Flying Boat was to simulate a fight with a Beaufighter of 235 Squadron. 235 Squadron had been sent to Fermanagh to help cover convoys. Atlantic shipping was under regular attack from Luftwaffe Junkers and Dorniers.
The training exercise involved both planes flying low and fast. The Sunderland approached St Angelo airfield from the north-east following the line of the road. The catastrophic damage was caused in trying to avoid a small hill in Trory near the coast.
Coming down on a road in the area from where the Devenish ferry sails, the Flying Boat was so low that the damaged wing cut telephone lines. It came down in the fields near St Angelo at 1250hrs. A memorial bearing the names of Bodsworth and companion Hebenton stands at the crash site today.
A local man, James Lunny, received a bravery medal for his help in assisting survivors. The broken up plane was strewn across the field and caught fire.
Sergeant Bodsworth fatally injured
Of the ten-man crew, eight were injured including Sergeant S Ford, Sergeant SB Irving, Flying Officer A Tomlinson, Flying Officer IF Dotwiller, Flight Sergeant BF Jones, Sergeant TH Chappel, Sergeant JS Eadie, and Sergeant GS Fleming. The aircrew was made up of both the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force.
Sergeant Reginald William Bodsworth died the following day as a result of his injuries. Air-gunner Leslie Arthur Hebenton died at the scene. Sergeant Bodsworth’s grave is in Kingsthorpe Cemetery, Northampton UK. His name is remembered on a memorial stone at the crash site.