Needham, MA – June 6, 1944

Needham, Massachusetts – June 6, 1944   

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger
U.S. Navy Photo

     Around 4 p.m. on June 6, 1944, two U. S. Navy, Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers, on loan to the British Royal Navy, were on a training flight over the Needham – Wellesley area when one of the aircraft developed engine trouble.  According to witnesses, the stricken aircraft, with its engine sputtering and backfiring,  circled the area apparently looking for a place to make an emergency landing.  It appeared to some that it was going to land at the Wellesley Golf Course, but then abruptly veered away.  As it did so the plane suddenly dove into the ground crashing and exploding in a wooded area on the Purdy Estate.  The impact happened in Needham, but in direct proximity of the Wellesley town line.

      Both men aboard perished in the crash.   They were later identified as: Sub. Lt. Albert John Dawson, (The pilot.) and Air Mechanic First Class Stanley Clive Wells.  Both are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts. 

     In 2005, a memorial marker honoring the sacrifice of both men was erected on a triangular plot of land at the intersection of Grove Street and Charles River Street in Needham.  The memorial is not far from the actual crash site.   


     Daily Boston Globe, “2 British Flyers Killed In crash At Needham”, June 7, 1944. 

     Wellesley Townsman, “Plane Crashes, Explodes And Burns On Purdy Estate” June 9, 1944.

     Needham Times, “Memory Of Royal Air Force Crash In Needham Survives In Witness Accounts”, July 16, 2021.

     Needham History Center & Museum – Needham, Mass. 



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