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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 158788
Last updated: 19 August 2020
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Type:Gloster Meteor F.4
Owner/operator:RAE Farnborough
Registration: EE568
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Ham Island, Old Windsor, Berkshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Farnborough, Hampshire
Destination airport:
Gloster Meteor F.Mk.4 EE568, RAE Farnborough: Written off (destroyed) 20 August 1948 when crashed on test flight. Purpose of flight: Assessment of lateral and directional stability. Aircraft was described in the accident report as a "long span" Meteor, with extended wingspan. Aircraft entered a dive from which it did not recover after a piece of its structure was seen to detach. Pilot Squadron Leader Charles L T Sawle RCAF, AFC killed.

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("The Windsor and Eton Express" 3rd September 1948 (front page) with a photograph of a very large hole in the ground):

"Jet Pilot Killed in Crash at Old Windsor.

The pilot of a twin-engined Meteor fighter aircraft lost his life on Monday when his machine crashed into a field on Ham Island, Old Windsor. The Meteor, which had come from the Royal Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Farnborough, roared down over the riverside bungalows, struck the ground near the Windsor Corporation Sewage Pumping station and exploded. One large crater and several smaller ones were made, and debris was scattered over a wide area.

The pilot, a young Canadian, whose name has not yet been disclosed, was killed instantly. No inquest has yet been fixed.

The aircraft was first seen to be in difficulties over Wraysbury, but it is believed that the trouble first developed over Sunbury, as part of the machine has been picked up there. It passed over Budgen’s corner at Wraysbury, only a few hundred feet from the ground and travelling at high speed. Bungalows at Remenham and Sunnymeads were only just cleared, and finally it dived to earth on Ham Island, not far from the riverside homes of stage stars Lupino Lane and Phyllis Robins. The windows of some bungalows were broken by the blast of the explosion.

Mr Cross, who is in charge of the Corporation pumping station, stated that he heard the machine approaching, and knew by the roar that something was amiss. By the time he had got outside the building, the aircraft had crashed. “The noise of the explosion was terrific” said Mr Cross “and it shook the whole island.”. Mr Lupino Lane and the lock-keeper at Old Windsor were among a number of people who saw the machine in its death dive".

The inquest was reported on the front page of the same newspaper three weeks later on 24th September 1948:

"Jet fighter may have crashed at 600 mph
Ham Island Tragedy.
Machine travelling at high speed when it hit the ground.

Pilot’s body said to have been lost in explosion. Colnbrook schoolboy tells of seeing something fall from the machine before the fatal dive. The inquest report has lots more details.


The pilot was Squadron Leader Charles Saull, age 30, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, married with two children. The plane was a Meteor Mark IV twin-jet aircraft. A crater 20 feet deep was formed, and fragments of the plane were scattered over 20 acres. No body was found, and the estimated impact speed was 600 mph.

Evidence was heard from Squadron Leader R E Havercroft, chief test instructor, Farnborough, and Walter G Bushell, chief technical officer, experimental flying, as well as Old Windsor witnesses.

Verdict, Death by Misadventure."

Pilots title and full name was Squadron Leader Charles Leonard Tregerthen Sawle, RCAF, AFC. He was aged 30 at the time of his death, and is buried at Ship Lane Cemetery, Farnborough, Hampshire


1. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix 2 September 1948, p12
2. Windsor & Eton Express 1 September 1948 page 1 and 24th September 1948 page 1
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft EA100-EZ999 (James J .Halley, Air Britain, 1988 p 21)
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/29/W2423:
9. Pilots gravestone:

Related books:

Revision history:

21-Aug-2013 20:57 Nepa Added
09-Jul-2014 08:56 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Narrative]
11-May-2017 19:17 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
11-May-2017 19:18 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
31-Jan-2018 18:01 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Source, Narrative]
10-Feb-2018 11:13 TigerTimon Updated [Aircraft type]
21-Nov-2019 01:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source]
02-Dec-2019 17:43 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
02-Dec-2019 17:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
02-Dec-2019 17:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
02-Dec-2019 17:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
02-Dec-2019 17:47 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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