Another Penrith connection to doomed Wellington

Date: Tuesday 28th November 2017

Sir, Further to the request for information (Herald, 18th November) on the crew of Wellington T2897, of which Sergeant Walter Hugh Wilkinson, of Penrith, was a member, there was no reference in the article of the Cumberland connection of the pilot, Pilot Officer Ronald Morison. This omission should be corrected

Ronald Rutherford Morison was born in Carlisle on 17th April, 1914, and enlisted in the Royal Air Force on 15th August, 1939. He was 6ft tall with a chest measurement of 33in.

His father, Dr. Frederick Hughes Morison, of The Manor House, Dalston, formerly lived in Langwathby, later moving to Barco, Penrith. He was the medical officer of health for Cumberland.

When residing in Penrith, Dr. Morison’s eldest son, Trooper (acting Sergt. Major) Donald Rutherford Morison, of the 5th Australian Horse, was killed at Gallipoli on 28th June, 1915, when rescuing an injured colleague.

Ronald Morison made his first operational flight on the night of 5th December, 1940, when he bombed the Fiat engine factory in Turin. He refused to release bombs if he could not positively identify the target, dropping them “safe” over the North Sea.

I am not entirely convinced that the survivor, Gunner Sergeant Rawlings, baled out to light a fire for the purpose of enabling Pilot Officer Morison to land.

Presumably the aircraft had suffered some catastrophic mechanical problem otherwise it would have retuned to England.

In these circumstances the question revolves in my mind that as to Morison being prepared to circle a crippled aircraft in the dark over enemy-occupied territory in the expectation (or hope) that Rawlings could search for a suitable field, gather sufficient wood and light it, why did other crew members not bale out to assist him?

It is known that Kenneth Rawlings made his way to a farm and was directed to another five miles away where he was captured. As he died in 1981 we may never know the truth.

We can also speculate that when the crew formed up at 20 OTU Lossiemouth in September, 1940, Wilkinson joined Morison through their Penrith connections. Yours etc,