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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 232836
Last updated: 25 September 2020
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Date:26-AUG-1948
Time:16:13 LT
Type:Gloster Meteor F.Mk 4
Owner/operator:222 (Natal) Squadron Royal Air Force (222 (Natal) Sqn RAF)
Registration: RA450
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:English Channel, 1/2 mile off Lancing, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Thorney Island, Emsworth, Hampshire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Gloster Meteor F.4 RA450, 222 (Natal) Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) 26 August 1948 when crashed into the English Channel, 1/2 mile off Lancing, West Sussex. Aircraft was tasked with a cine camera gun exercise. The pilot had been performing very steep turns and failed to acknowledge radio calls. It was thought that he might have been become unconscious while manœuvring - anoxia (oxygen starvation) would appear to be a likely cause of this, but could never be proven, as the pilots body was never found or recovered, and thus no post-mortem could be performed. All that was found was some wreckage, and a patch of oil floating on the water.

According to a contemporary newspaper report, which reported on the inquest into the death of pilot ("Chichester Observer" - Saturday 25 December 1948):

"INQUEST BUT NO BODY.
SEQUEL TO LANCING 'PLANE CRASH.

The Chichester Coroner (Mr. G. F. L. Bridgman) on Friday of last week, returned a verdict of death by misadventure, when he held an enquiry, directed by the Home Secretary, into the alleged death of Pilot Howard Charles Saward, Deceased, who was a native of New Zealand, at the time of the incident resided at 21, Gordon Road, Southbourne, and was the pilot of a Jet Meteor Mk. IV which crashed into the sea off Lancing on August 26. The body has not yet been recovered.

Pilot Officer A. S. Davies, stationed at Thorney Island, said that at about 4 p.m. on August 26, he and the deceased took off in formation from Thorney Island. After a few minutes in the air he tried to contact Saward but could get no reply. He thought this might be due to R/T failure, and reported the matter to air traffic control.

When on the beach at South Lancing, F/Lt. W. S. Shennan heard an explosion, the screech of a 'plane in a dive and then saw the whole under part of a 'plane crash into the sea. He later contacted the coastguards because he thought the Shoreham Lifeboat, which had already gone out, was searching in the wrong place.

"About 4 p.m. on August 26, I saw a 'plane dive into the sea off Lancing," said Mr. Victor H. Page of Surrey Street, Shoreham, second coxwain of the Shoreham Lifeboat. "We went out in the lifeboat to the spot where the 'plane had crashed and there was a large patch of oil on the water. There was also some debris which I thought came from the 'plane's petrol tank."

After searching round for about 1½ hours, they returned to their station, but were instructed to go out again because they had been in the wrong place. They went out again, this time about a quarter of a mile south from their first site, and there stayed for some three-quarters of an hour. In neither case did they find any trace of the pilot. He added "At the time in question, there was a strong tide running and what came to the surface would not be over the spot where it went down."

Pilot of Meteor RA450:
4016222 Pilot Howard Charles SAWARD, RAF - Age 27.

He was an experienced pilot, having flown 422 hours solo (40 on Meteor) in 63 wartime ops. During the war Saward served with the RAF as a member of the RNZAF. He flew operationally with the Takoradi Defence Flight and 128 Squadron, RAF, in West Africa and later from Britain with 486 Sqn, RNZAF, until shot down and captured in September 1943.

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.80 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Final Landings: A Summary of RAF Aircraft and Combat Losses 1946-1949 p 422-423 by Colin Cummings
3. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=5269.0
4. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?12586-NCO-fighter-pilots-in-ME&styleid=3
5. https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/95315
6. Sunday Times (Perth, WA) Sun 19 Dec 1948 Page 1 "Jet Death": https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/59511207


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
09-Feb-2020 01:53 Dr. John Smith Added
09-Feb-2020 11:49 Iwosh Updated [Operator, Operator]

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