Paying tribute to an only son who died in Lancaster bomber ED 549: Barbadian Sergeant Grey Cumberbatch

Sister places wreath upon grave of Barbadian Royal Air Force bombardier

Royal Air Force personnel, villagers and family members recently unveiled a memorial to the crew of RAF Lancaster bomber ED 549 that crashed near Plungar,  on March 5, 1943. Six of the seven crew members died in the crash, including Barbadian Grey Cumberbatch.

Grey Cumberbatch was the eldest child and only son of Charles WIlkinson Cumberbatch and Ocatavia Ceciliy Cumberbatch née Jordan, of St. Lucy, Barbados. He was born 2nd June 1921 and baptised 34rd July 1921 as Greystone Doyle Cumberbatch at St. Lucy Parish Church. He died 5th March 1943, aged 21, when his Lancaster bomber went down returning from a mine-laying mission over the French port of St. Nazaire – a wartime base for German submarines.

Second contingent. Cumberbatch is front row, left. Barrow is back row, right.

Cumberbatch had volunteered for the RAF and was part of the ‘second contingent’ going overseas that included the future first Prime Minister of Barbados, Errol W. Barrow.

Grey Cumberbatch, 2nd left, with crew of ED549

Further Reading

Memorial photo courtesy of Riparianowner

Melton Times Memorial day honours bomber crash crew

The Last Crew of Lancaster ED 549, 100 Squadron (PDF memorial booklet here)

This is Leicestershire: Villagers remember bomber-crash crew

Caribbean aircrew in the RAF during WW2: Grey Doyle Cumberbatch


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, History

8 responses to “Paying tribute to an only son who died in Lancaster bomber ED 549: Barbadian Sergeant Grey Cumberbatch

  1. Canadian Tourist

    Thanks for Posting this! Seems two of his crew members were Canadians. Would love to hear more about Bajans in the Second World War.

  2. John

    This is a site about participants from the Caribbean.

  3. Sam Shank

    Thank God for people like him who protected the world from Hitler’s agenda.

  4. Turn it on!

    The Lancaster was a dangerous bird to fly. Check out the statistics for crew survival rates vs the B17 and B24. When a bomber was hit, the crew of a B17 or B24 could bail out through many large hatches. The front office crew of a Lancaster had one tiny little hatch under the nose. The difference in survival rates is staggering. Read ‘Tail End Charlies’ the book.

  5. Duppy Lizard

    I will be forever greatfull to all those who gave so valiantly that I have the freedom to be who I am and do what freedom allows me to do what I desire to do.

  6. Nicole Marville

    Grey Cumberbatch was a member of my family. It is wonderful to see that his memory is being kept alive. May God’s blessings be with all the families of Leicestershire Village. Thank you for taking care of his grave all these years, we know that he is not forgotten.

  7. Rev. Mark D. Harewood

    The altar-communion rail at St. Barnabas Anglican Church may have been donated by Wilkie Cumberbatch, the Headmaster of St. Giles’ school (1931- 1958), in memory of his son, R.A.F. Sgt. Grey Cumberbatch. Would love if someone could confirm this as the Church is preparing a history for its 175th anniversary

  8. Anonymous

    Update : It was confirmed by the sister of Grey Cumberbatch that the altar-communion rail at the Church was indeed donated by their father, C.W. Cumberbatch.