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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 226086
Last updated: 15 June 2020
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Date:01-MAY-1940
Time:03:15 LT
Type:Vickers Wellington Mk 1c
Owner/operator:115 Squadron Royal Air Force (115 Sqn RAF)
Registration: R3154
C/n / msn: KO-Q
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Thorgill, N of Lastingham, 7 miles NW of Pickering, North Yorkshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Marham, Norfolk
Destination airport:RAF Dishforth, North Yorkshire
Narrative:
Vickers Wellington Mk.1a R3154 (KO-Q) 115 Squadron, RAF Marham; written off (damaged beyond repair) when failed to return from flight to attack Stavanger Aerodrome, Norway, 1 May 1940. As part of an effort to reduce the high level of Luftwaffe activity prior to the imminent evacuation of Namsos and ┼ndalsnes, R3154 took off from Marham on April 30th together with two other Wellingtons from the squadron, to attack Sola airfiel.

The crew of this Wellington took off from Marham airfield in Norfolk at 18.25 hrs on 30th April 1940 with the aim of bombing Stavanger airfield. In all 50 aircraft were sent to attack three airfields, the other two being at Fornebu and Aalburg. Thirty five of these aircraft managed to bomb with three aircraft being lost over the target.

With regard this specific aircraft, all appears to have gone well on the out-bound leg and whilst over the target. On the return leg this aircraft lost electrical power and with it all the navigational and wireless systems, they flew in formation with another 115 Squadron Wellington (piloted by F/Lt Pringle) and kept together until near the English coast. The other aircraft then successfully homed into their airfield and made a good landing but Wellington R3154 drifted off course northwards.

The crew eventually became lost in the darkness, in poor visibility and low cloud navigation became a problem. On flying north their situation was compounded due to a number of other things; the failure of RAF Driffield's beacon to answer signals; having a shortage of recognition cartridges on board the aircraft and setting a course at too low a height. The Wellington continued on and eventually flew into the ground at 03.15 hrs north of Lastingham towards the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, the belly of the aircraft would appear to have been torn off and sadly two members of the crew were killed and they were probably those in the very front of the aircraft.

The aircraft came to rest some distance from where it first struck the ground, the four survivors received minor injuries and it became apparent that in pitch blackness they could not find the two other members of the crew, the rear gunner and wireless operator received very minor injuries and set out to find help.

On their fourth attempt they located the bodies of the two missing airmen who had been thrown out in the impact, at dawn they could see where they were going so found their way down to Rosedale Abbey and later all the crew were taken to Pickering. The survivors were then transported to Dishforth airfield where they remained for three days.

The accident documentation states that the crew had planned on remaining in the air until dawn when they would be able to find somewhere safe to land, what it doesn't state it what direction they were heading at the time of the crash.

After the incident the pilot, who already had 250 hours flying to his name, said that he thought he was over flat East Anglia when the height at which he was flying would have been adequate. 1000 feet in this area would have been more than ample to avoid striking high ground - as none exists. Due to the failure of the wireless and the poor visibility they became hopelessly lost.

Crew of Wellington R3154:
Pilot - Flying Officer Augustus Rodney Gibbes RAF (40048) - sightly injured
Second Pilot - Flying Officer Edward Joseph Taylor Clarke RAF (39375) - killed in action; buried Stamford Cemetery, Stamford, Lincolnshire
Air Gunner - Pilot Officer John Marshman RAFVR (77039, aged 26) - killed in action; buried Marham (Holy Trinity) Churchyard, Marham, Norfolk
Observer - Sgt Lionel Miller Petersen RAF (550669) - uninjured
Wireless Operator - LAC Gerald Cecil William Stone RAF (533644) - uninjured
Rear Gunner - AC.1 Thomas Braidwood Moir RAF (629157) - uninjured

The two crew fatalities were listed as "killed in action" on May 1 1940, and buried as per the above listing. Pieces of wreckage were still present at the crash site as recently as early 2018; the crashed aircraft must have been visible from the Hutton le Hole to Blakey road and remained fairly intact after the crash.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft R1000-R9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1980 p 18)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/182: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14142007
3. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2359095/clarke,-edward-joseph-taylor/
4. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2764068/marshman,-john/
5. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/planes/40/r3154.html
6. http://baaa-acro.sindev.ch/crash/crash-vickers-416-wellington-ic-thorgill-2-killed


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
11-Jun-2019 22:45 Dr. John Smith Added
12-Jun-2019 12:53 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Location]

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