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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 232758
Last updated: 15 February 2020
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Date:24-APR-1950
Time:10:45 LT
Type:Gloster Meteor F.Mk 4
Owner/operator:West Malling SF Royal Air Force (West Malling SF RAF)
Registration: VT185
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Moat Farm, Five Oak Green, 4 miles east of Tonbridge, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk
Destination airport:RAF Manston, Ramsgate, Kent (MSE/EGMH)
Narrative:
Gloster Meteor F.Mk.4 VT185, RAF West Malling Station Flight: Written off (destroyed) 24 April 1950 when crashed at Moat Farm, Five Oak Green, 4 miles east of Tonbridge, Kent. The pilot - the Commanding Officer of RAF West Malling - was killed. According to several published and unpublished sources

"Monday 24th April 1950
Station Flight, RAF West Malling (Kent - 11 Group)
Gloster Meteor F.4 VT185 - took off from Martlesham Heath, Suffolk at 10:30. Snowstorms, turbulent and icy weather were encountered over Kent, the pilot after flying over West Malling at 200 feet diverted to Manston. Moments later at 10:45am, VT185 dived into the ground at Moat Farm, Five Oak Green, 4 miles east of Tonbridge and disintegrated. It was thought extreme ice accretion had caused loss of control.

Full Name Rank, Awards and Age:
Group Captain Henry Neville Gynes Ramsbottom-Isherwood DFC AFC, Order of Lenin (USSR) aged 44.
Service Number 29116
Flying Hours: 3339 hrs (13 solo on Meteor)

He was the officer commanding at RAF West Malling, and died 3 months short of 20 years service. A military funeral was held on 29 April 1950 at St Felix church in Felixstowe.

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Evening Telegraph" - Monday 8 May 1950)

"Visibility Nil When Plane Crashed.
A verdict of accidental death, due to adverse weather conditions, was returned at to-day's inquest at Tonbridge, Kent, on Group Captain Henry Neville Ramsbottom-Isherwood (44), commanding officer of R.A.F. Station, West Malling, He was killed when his Meteor jet aircraft crashed in a field at Five Oak Green on April 24.

Wing-Commander E. B. G. Masefield, senior administrative officer of West Malling, said that Group Captain Ramsbottom-Isherwood took off from Martlesham at 10.30 a.m. Shortly afterwards he called up West Malling and was given a bearing. Flying conditions were extremely bad, and it was suggested he should land at Manston. The message was not acknowledged.

"I saw the machine at about 10.50, when it flew over the aerodrome in a very heavy snowstorm at about 300-400 feet. Visibility was literally nil at the time when it is assumed he crashed."

Remains were found in 2002 during soil stripping ahead of aggregates extraction. The remains had been deposited in a back-filled dyke. The site was excavated in 2003. The recovered remains of this aircraft are held by the Lashenden Air Warfare Museum at Lashenden (Headcorn) Aerodrome. All items are in store at this time including both engines, 1 main U/C leg & tyre, Nose leg & rudder.

Details were lodged with the RAF. MOD licence No. 1422 covered an excavation in April 2003. Recovered items included small sections, crushed, corroded and burnt parts such as engine, main wheels and tyres, instrument panels, cockpit instruments, fuselage panels and various other items. Also the remains of 20mm cannon, for which a firearms certificate was issued."

In 2009, Isherwood's medals were put up for auction at Sotheby's by his only daughter. They were bought by an anonymous Russian bidder for 46,000. The sale aroused considerable interest in New Zealand where his nephew conducted an unsuccessful campaign to acquire the medals. A television documentary about Isherwood called Operation Hurricane was made by Prime TV in New Zealand in 2012.

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.101 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 Colin Cummings p 51
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1985)
4. Unpublished document: Archaeology South-East. 2004. Watching brief at Lafarge Aggregates Ltd. Quarry, Stonecastle, Farm, Whetsted, Kent.
5. Unpublished document: Ministry of Defence (RAF). 2003. Report of Items Removed under Licence from Aircraft crash Site In accordance with The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
6. Carter, Eric and Loveless, Antony (2014) Force Benedict, Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 978-1-44478514-2
7. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=VT
8. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2868.0
9. https://www.kent.gov.uk/ExploringKentsPast/SingleResult.aspx?uid=MKE44385
10. http://aircrewremembered.com/ramsbottom-isherwood.html
11. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10576930
12. http://russianfilm.biz/2012/04/ww2-operation-hurricane-extraordinary-story/


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
03-Feb-2020 20:15 Dr. John Smith Added
03-Feb-2020 20:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
05-Feb-2020 22:47 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Operator]
15-Feb-2020 22:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Destination airport, Narrative]

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