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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 150542
Last updated: 10 August 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia
Owner/operator:58 Operational Training Unit Royal Air Force (58 OTU RAF)
Registration: L1059
C/n / msn: 274
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Near the farm buildings at Hillhead, Slamannan, Stirlingshire, Scotlan -   United Kingdom
Phase: Unknown
Departure airport:RAF Grangemouth, Stirlingshire
Destination airport:
On 14 February 1941 Sgt John Tristram Silvester, a pilot under training at 58 Operational Training Unit RAF, took off from RAF Grangemouth in Scotland on a training flight in Spitfire Mk Ia L1059. With the cloud base at 700 feet and visibility just one to two miles, he was unable to locate the aerodrome in the misty conditions prevailing and apparently lost control during a turn.

That day Charlie Whyte was working at the pithead at Oakerdykes when he heard a Spitfire circling low overhead. The sky was overcast and there was a low mist. He was in the Observer Corps and his training enabled him to identify the plane. It was not hard to tell from the noise that it was in trouble, as the engine was clearly back-firing.

The aircraft was seen to circle in misty weather in the hills, before diving into the ground from a low height. At 1050 hrs several people in the nearby village of Slamannan heard the plane scream in its rapid descent. It impacted the ground near the farm buildings at Hillhead, not far from the Observer Post and only the tail was left sticking out. The ammunition went off in every direction and there was a terrific noise.

Charlie Finlay was out in one of the fields ploughing with two horses. It was with considerable effort that he was able to hold them back. The plane had caught fire and the auxiliary fire brigade from Slamannan rushed to the scene, only to find that they had left their hoses behind.

Later that day the RAF came and extricated the body of the pilot. He had been killed instantly, the aircraft bursting into flames on impact. A guard in the field kept everyone back on the Pirnie Lodge Road and only after the wreckage had been cleared away was it possible to see the large hole in the park itself. Between them, the villagers gleaned all traces of the plane from the field.

John Silvester is buried in Ombersley St Andrew Church yard, Worcestershire. He was born on 6th September 1918 one of 9 children of John and Alice Sylvester, 4 girls and 5 boys. The family resided at Little Acton Farm near Stourport. He attended Queen Elizabethís Grammar School at Hartlebury from September 1930 where he excelled at various sports including hockey, cricket and football. After leaving the school in the summer of 1937, he entered Saltley College, Birmingham to commence teacher training, qualifying in 1939. Prior to enlisting in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1940 he worked as a teacher for Worcestershire County Council.

In 2013 a team from the Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum dug up the wreckage of the plane recovering its metal prop, instrument panel, an engine piston and an oxygen bottle. Also among the debris was the pilotís armour plating, the Sutton harness, the burnt remains and release buckle of the pilotís parachute, a flying helmet, goggles and hundreds of other parts of the aircraft weighing around two tons in total.

On 16 August 2014 members of the Silvester family attended a service involving the unveiling of a memorial to John Silvester at Slamannan. The event was organised by Dumfries and Galloway Museum member Stevie Spink.


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Revision history:

06-Nov-2012 01:08 angels one five Added
28-Jul-2013 19:49 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source, Narrative]
19-Sep-2013 01:30 angels one five Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
25-Sep-2013 05:13 angels one five Updated [Registration, Source, Narrative]
25-Sep-2013 08:39 angels one five Updated [Time]
06-Apr-2015 19:58 angels one five Updated [Destination airport, Narrative]
16-Jul-2015 19:15 Angel dick five Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
19-Feb-2017 07:42 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
27-Sep-2019 22:15 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Narrative]

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