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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 17969
Last updated: 16 July 2020
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Date:06-JAN-1957
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic AUS6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Auster AOP.6
Owner/operator:663 Squadron Royal Air Force (663 Sqn RAF)
Registration: VF546
C/n / msn: 2504
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Dorfold Farm, 1 mile WSW of Nantwich, Cheshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Llandow, Glamorgan
Destination airport:Hooton Park, Wirral, Cheshire
Narrative:
Auster AOP.6 VF546, 663 Squadron, RAF. Written off (destroyed) 6/1/1957 - Lost outer wing in the air and dived into the ground at Dorfold Farm, 1 mile west-south-west of Nantwich, Cheshire. Both crew killed on impact. "The two crew of VF546 were Captain John Leslie Pollitt, Royal Artillery (pilot) and Pilot Officer John George Sidlower, RAF (passenger). The Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons, this aircraft being from No.663 Sqn stationed at RAF Hooton near Chester, were often staffed jointly by the RAF and artillery regiments as they were spotters for the Royal Artillery and directed fire.

Captain Pollitt is recorded as being from Blackpool by the Chester Chronicle, though I am fairly certain that he was actually from Warrington. His birth was recorded in the Warrington area (date of birth, September 15, 1930).

I'm fairly sure he married in Warrington in 1953 to Celia Rooke and they had two children. One was born in Blackpool in 1954, though their second was born, after the accident, in Warrington. The Armed Forces Memorial doesn't record any details of where he is buried/commemorated.

I've not found much information about P/O Sidlower. The Armed Forces Memorial gives his date of birth as January 27, 1934, and records him as being buried at Weybridge Cemetery, Surrey (Grave 3, 3717).

From what was in the paper, part of one wing detached causing an immediate loss of control. The aircraft went into a spin and continued spinning until it struck the ground. There was no post-crash fire. The detached section of wing fell within a few hundred yards of the main crash site. At the time of the inquest the AAIB had not determined the cause of the failure within the wing.

As reported in The Chester Chronicle of January 12, 1957: "Many people in Nantwich and Acton areas watched horrified at lunchtime on Sunday as an RAF Auster light aircraft nose dived into a ploughed field at Acton, killing the pilot and passenger, both officers.

"Eye witnesses said the plane had been flying apparently normally in a clear sky when one section of a wing broke away. Seconds later the plane plunged to earth."

The report also tells of the heroism of a local master baker and confectioner, Mr Wilf Whitlow, who, with his wife, raised the alarm. It said that Mr and Mrs Whitlow lived in Dig Lane, Acton, a few hundred yards from where the plane crashed in a field farmed by Mr J.A. Sadler, of Dorfield Dairy House, Acton.

The report continued: "Mr Whitlow drove his car down the lane to the scene while his wife dialled 999. When Mr Whitlow arrived the plane was a tangled heap of wreckage in the field about a hundred yards from the road. Although there was a heavy smell of petrol in the air and the possible danger of fire, Mr Whitlow raced to the plane to look for survivors. He saw one of the men trapped in the wreckage, already dead. It was not until later that the body of the second man was found."

After a short time an ambulance and fire engine from Nantwich arrived. The wreckage didn't catch fire. The crumpled section of the wing was found several fields away from the main wreckage.

From J.H.Harrold: "I was stationed at Royal Air Force Hooton Park during 1957 where P/O Sidlower was Station Adjutant. I spoke to him on the morning of the crash, and he commented on the lovely weather and how he was looking forward to a flight. I heard later that another r.a.f. person wanted to fly in the same aircraft and that they tossed for the privilege with disastrous results for Pilot Officer Sidlower."

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.182 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft SA100-VZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p.63)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.228
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/36/S2860: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6578640
5. 663 Squadron ORB (Operational Record Book)(Air Ministry Form AM/F.540) for the period 1/1/1957 to 31/3/1957: File AIR 27/2715/3 at https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8428077
6. http://www.ukserials.com/losses-1957.htm
7. http://simviation.com//lair/casualty1957.htm
8. http://austerhg.org/prod_list/pages.php?page=2400
9. http://www.dabbersnantwich.me.uk/askandrew3.htm


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
29-Jun-2011 02:26 angels one five Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Nature, Damage, Narrative]
27-Jan-2012 14:06 Nepa Updated [Operator, Nature, Narrative]
21-Feb-2012 23:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
16-Aug-2012 08:22 Nepa Updated [Operator]
21-Jun-2013 18:30 Dr. John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
07-Sep-2013 18:02 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
16-Jul-2020 19:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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