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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 20519
Last updated: 4 August 2020
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Date:11-JUN-1953
Time:c. 16:00
Type:Gloster Javelin (Prototype)
Owner/operator:Gloster Aircraft Co.
Registration: WD808
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Ashton Court Park, Long Ashton, near Bristol, Somerset -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Test
Departure airport:Moreton Valance, Gloucestershire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Gloster GA.5 F/4.48 (Javelin) second prototype WD808. Written off (destroyed) 11 June 1953: Fatal crash after experiencing a 'super-stall'. At high angles of attack the elevators were masked from the airflow by the wings and became ineffective, from which point recovery was impossible. The pilot, Peter Lawrence, delayed his ejection too long in order to ensure that the aircraft would land on open ground, sadly his parachute was unable to open in time.

Pilot:
Lt Commander Peter Godfrey Lawrence MBE RN, Gloster Test Pilot, killed.

According to an eyewitness report:

"I saw the plane fall from the sky while walking home that afternoon from school in Stoke Bishop, Bristol. A year later I was at Bristol Grammar School, whose playing fields bordered the crash site. A teacher, the late Harry Dunnicliffe told me that he saw the plane approaching and believed that the pilot was struggling to keep the plane airborne so as to avoid crashing onto the school cricket pitches and killing scores of boys. In his opinion the pilot sacrificed his life for pupils of my school. He then carried the pilot into the pavilion where he thought he still just alive. I feel that the pilots valour should be acknowledged even after 58 years.

I saw this incident from the Clifton College playing fields at Beggars Bush Lane, adjacent to Ashton Court. The plane seemed to come fluttering down from side to side like a sycamore leaf. The pilot ejected but far too late, and we were told that he had stayed at the controls in order to miss the hundred plus boys who were there."

Note that, despite the above eyewitness report, most published sources give the crash location of Javelin prototype WD808 as "Flax Bourton, Somerset" [sic]. The two locations are some six and a half miles apart.

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.145 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 Colin Cummings p 376
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1985 p 30)
4. Hamilton-Paterson., James (2018). Empire of the Clouds: The Golden Era of Britain's Aircraft. London:: Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-34148-1.
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/154: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C424275
6. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=WD
7. http://www.btinternet.com/~javelin/p02_development/p02_development.htm
8. https://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/memorial/entry.php?id=224
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Godfrey_Lawrence
10. "From all Quarters: Peter Lawrence" - Flight 19 June 1953 p 771: https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1953/1953%20-%200777.PDF
11. http://thetartanterror.blogspot.com/2007/12/peter-g-lawrence-1920-1953.html
12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax_Bourton


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
03-Jun-2008 15:41 JINX Added
19-Feb-2011 06:03 michael picken Updated [Embed code]
27-Feb-2013 18:50 Dr. John Smith Updated [Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
28-Jan-2016 17:20 Clifton schoolboy Updated [Narrative]
06-Sep-2017 05:38 Roy Updated [Time]
06-Jan-2020 00:47 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]

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