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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 210058
Last updated: 20 March 2020
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Date:29-NOV-1939
Time:night
Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk IF
Owner/operator:23 Squadron Royal Air Force (23 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L1452
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Owlet Plantation, Stockwith, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Digby, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Bristol Blenheim Mk.I L1452, 23 Squadron, RAF Digby: Written off (destroyed) 29/11/39 when crashed at Owlet Plantation, Stockwith, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. Aircraft crashed at night while on an anti-aircraft searchlight co-operation sortie. Two of the crew of three were killed:

Flt Lt Percy Don Walker (pilot, Service Number 36115, aged 27) killed
AC.2 Benjamin France (Service Number 620302, aged 19) killed
L.A/C Chrystall (Wop/Air Gunner) survived (baled out)

It is worth noting that a "Flying Officer P. Walker" survived the crash of 23 Squadron RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk.1F on 25/7/39 near Grantham, Lincolnshire (see link #5). It is possibly one and the same person. A local newspaper report ("Sheffield Star" Monday 14 August 2006 - see link #6) ran an article about the crash of Blenheim L1452:

"Did teenager flier Ben forsee wartime plane tragedy?
By Martin Dawes
ON the evening of November 19, 1939, a young airman called Ben France from Sheffield sat down to tea at RAF Digby, near Laughton in Lincolnshire, with motor transport driver John Williamson. War had been declared just two months earlier and Ben, from Sturge Street, Heeley, was an Aircraftsman Second Class with 229 Squadron, flying Blenheim fighters. Like Ben, who was only 19, the squadron was new, having only been reformed the previous month after existing briefly in the First World War.

Ben was nervous. He was about to go up on his first test flight later that night. The squadron didn't yet have all its own pilots, so Flight Lieutenant Percy Don Walker was detached from 23 Squadron to help get 229 fully operational.

Why was young Ben nervous? Did he have some foreboding? Later that evening, with Walker at the controls, Blenheim L1452 rumbled off the runway at Digby. Back on the ground, Williamson drove a Crossley lorry and trailer out to nearby Navenby with a flashing beacon.

The pilot radioed back to base that the beacon was not working but showing a steady light. That was the last that was heard from the plane. A little later it crashed at Owlet Plantation near Gainsborough, its crew blinded by the beacon. Ben and the pilot were dead. The air gunner, leading Aircraftsman C Chrystall, baled out safely.

The Operations Record Book of 23 Squadron records simply it was "a flying accident." Flt Lieutenant Walker had told his crew to bale out.Ben didn't. As engineer, he stayed with the plane and paid the price. Ben's body is in City Road Cemetery, Sheffield."

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 9)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/1694: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C16359596
3. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939a.htm
4. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2358964/walker,-percy-don/
5. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2413521/france,-benjamin/
6. http://aircrewremembered.com/blenheim-losses-and-casualties.html
7. https://www.thestar.co.uk/lifestyle/features/did-teenager-flier-ben-forsee-wartime-plane-tragedy-1-271801
8. http://www.bcar.org.uk/1939-incident-logs
9. http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showpost.php?p=185043&postcount=3


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
28-Apr-2018 19:04 Dr. John Smith Added
28-Apr-2018 19:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
26-Sep-2018 10:15 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Operator]
25-Jun-2019 01:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
25-Jun-2019 01:51 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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