Wellington Bomber BJ894, Royal Canadian Air Force

Crashed near Benfleet on November 16, 1942

I am the nephew of Flt Sgt Jack Tritt of Montreal, Canada, the navigator of the Wellington Bomber (Serial Number BJ894) that crashed near Benfleet on November 16, 1942. During a recent Internet search, I found the Benfleet community web site and a request from Ronnie Pigram for information on the loss of the aircraft.

The aircraft belonged to 425 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, known as the Alouette Squadron. 425 Squadron was officially a French-Canadian squadron, although it had members from English Canada and the occasional RAF member as well.

The aircraft was on a training exercise known as the Bullseye Cruise. This was the final training exercise before being sent on combat missions. The crew was meant to fly from their base in Dishforth, Yorkshire, and to find and make a mock attack on a target in the South of England. According to the RAF accident report, the aircraft was caught in the searchlights over the target. While the pilot was taking violent maneuvers, the fabric covering was torn off the aircraft’s elevators and other surfaces, causing loss of control.

During my research, I found a considerable amount of information, largely from the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa. The summary of the Court of Inquiry came from the RAF Archives, and the initial Air Raid Warden’s report on the crash came from the Essex County Archives.

I have seen reported in several places (including the community page for Canvey Island) that the aircraft had been lost due to enemy action. According to the archives, this was not correct: the crash was purely due to mechanical failure.

I should add that my late mother – Jack Tritt’s youngest sister – was the first family member to visit the grave, arriving in England several months later as a Lt. (N/S) RCAMC. My late grandmother visited in the late 1940s, as part of a program by the Canadian government to allow mothers who had lost their sons to visit their graves.

As my wife is a native of London, I have had occasion to visit Southend-on-Sea on several occasions during family visits.

Flt Sgt Jack Tritt of Montreal - navigator on Wellington BJ894
Initial Air Raid Warden's report
Essex County Archives
Crew list for Wellington Bomber BJ894
National Archives of Canada
Initial signal from RAF Southend to RCAF Dishforth.
National Archives of Canada
Accident Record card (summary of Court of Inquiry)
RAF Archives
Operations Record Book, 425 Squadron
National Archives of Canada
Letter from the family of Sgt Norman Ash of Peace River, Alberta
National Archives of Canada
Letter (in French) from the family of Sgt Joseph Patry of Montreal
National Archives of Canada

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  • I was first made aware of the accident to 425 Wellington BJ894 in the early 1990’s when a a guy called Joe Tritt walked into our office. After chatting to him it was agreed he could use our office as a U.K. base on an as and when basis. I well remember the day he said he would not be in the following day as he was visiting his brother in Southend. On his return I innocently asked if his brother lived in Southend, as i knew the area quite well. It was then that he told me his brother Jack was buried there having served in the air force. Other than that nothing else was forthcoming except that he visited brother Jack’s grave when he was in the U.K. It was not until after Joe’s death that I researched the case of BJ894 on the internet and now have a comprehensive knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the crash and the history of Jack Tritt, simply by typing his name in and aircraft crash of Wellington into Google. I would like to have accompanied Joe on his visits but alas, it was not be. I tried tracing Jack and Joe’s nephew Joseph Aspler’s email address to let him know of Joe’s visits to brother Jack in case he was unaware.

    By Rodney Johnson (16/12/2021)
  • I visit the CWGC Graves at Sutton Road Cemetery often and have wondered how these very young Men were buried in Southend.
    11/11/2019 I paid my respects to them all Prayed for them & thanked them for their Sacrifice & Duty done.
    May they all rest in Peace

    We will remember them

    By Steve Rainbow (11/11/2019)
  • This is a really interesting page with lots of information, thank you for sharing. Just as an aside, the handwriting on the letters and reports is so lovely, a great shame the skill is being lost.

    By Denise Neale (16/11/2013)

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