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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 195934
Last updated: 14 March 2021
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Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk IV
Owner/operator:35 (Madras Presidency) Squadron Royal Air Force (35 (Madras Presidency) Sqn RAF)
Registration: L8845
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire, England. -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Upwood
Destination airport:
On 12 March 1940 at approximately 1000 hours two Blenheims (the Blenheim IV L8845 of 35 Sqn and one of 90 Sqn, identified as L6596 or L1396 depending of sources) collided just after becoming airborne from RAF Upwood airfield and finished up a short distance apart, both caught fire. The fire on the 90 Squadron aircraft was confined to the engine nacelles and the occupants (including Sgt Blanks (pilot)) were able to escape from their aircraft.

The pilot and sole occupant of L8845, Sgt Alphonse Roger Hermels 517823, was rendered unconscious, had severe back injuries and was trapped in his cockpit. Two ground crew, LAC Michael Patrick Champion and AC1 Ernest Ralph Clyde Frost (a Canadian in the RAF), were the first to arrive at the scene. AC1 Frost searched for the wireless operator not knowing the pilot was the only occupant of the aircraft.

Once AC1 Frost had completed his search for the wireless operator the aircraft was well alight. Suffering from the effect of the fumes, AC1 Frost joined LAC Campion in rescuing the pilot which they did with the aid of a fire-proof blanket. The cockpit by this time was surrounded by flames and in imminent danger of the main petrol tanks exploding. After rescuing the pilot, a short time afterwards the petrol tanks did explode and the whole aircraft was rapidly burnt out. The pilot unfortunately died later that day from his injuries.

Wing Commander A. Leach (Commanding Officer, 90 Squadron) and Flight Lieutenant D. R. Biggs were withnesses of the rescue. In view that both of these airmen were not members of the flying crew of either aircraft, it was considered that the award for the Air Force Medal might not be appropriate. AC1 Frost and LAC Campion were recommend for either the Medal of the Order of the British Empire or the Empire Gallantry Medal. Both were awarded the later, which was automatically exchanged for the George Cross by the terms of the institution of that award in September 1940.

"Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, vol 1: Aircraft and Crew lost during 1939-1940", by W R Chorley. ISBN 0-904597-85-7


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Revision history:

05-Jun-2017 09:56 Laurent Rizzotti Added
09-Oct-2018 05:50 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Operator]
26-Oct-2018 18:34 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]

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