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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 221948
Last updated: 9 April 2019
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Date:11-NOV-1943
Time:14:49 LT
Type:de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide
Owner/operator:51 Operational Training Unit Royal Air Force (51 OTU RAF)
Registration: X7368
C/n / msn: 6528
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Hucknall, Nottinghamshire
Destination airport:RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire
Narrative:
C/no. 6528: Taken on charge as X7368 (under Contract No B.104592/40) at 18 MU RAF Dumfries 4.6.41. (2x Gipsy Queen III #70052/70054). To 10 Air Gunnery School 25.9.41. To 2 [O]AFU RAF Millom, Cumberland 13.8.42. Returned to 18 MU RAF Dumfries 11.9.42. To 51 OTU Cranfield [by 31.12.42].

Written off (destroyed by fire) 11.11.43: On final approach to RAF Cranfield, the DH.89A collided with a RAF Bristol Beaufighter (R2252) carrying a crew of three. Following the collision, both planes dove into the ground and crashed in flames in a field located few hundred yards short of runway threshold at Cranfield. All eight occupants on both aircraft (five in the DH.89A, three in the Beaufighter) were killed. Crew of DH.89A Dominie I were:

Flt Lt Archibald Menzies Fitzrandolph, Service Number 72657, pilot in command, aged 47
Passengers:
Flt Lt Ian Harper Courtney, Service Number 104954, RAFVR
Sgt Eric Povey, Service Number 1232823, aged 22
2nd Lt M. Schenker, US Army
2nd Lt J. K. Peters, US Army

Crew of Beaufighter R2252:
Flight Lt Michael William Kinmonth, pilot,
Flight Sgt Lionel Maxwell Amesbury, pilot,
Corporal Jose Cecilia Hayes (W/Op/Air Gunner)

A Court of Inquiry Report vividly describes the events : “At about 14.49 hrs. on the 11th November 1943 Dominie X7368, piloted by Flight Lt Fitzrandolph was returning to Cranfield from Hucknall and was making a normal approach from the East on runway 26, having received permission to land by R/T.

Beaufighter R2252 piloted by F/Lt M.W. Kinmonth arrived from Twinwood Farm at about the same time. The Beaufighter, which was not in R/T communication with Flying Control at Cranfield, had been sent round again about 2 minutes previously by a red signal cartridge from the Airfield Controller for cutting in on another Beaufighters approach in a dangerous manner. After completing a tight circuit, the Beaufighter R2252 turned towards the runway with undercarriage and flaps down in a steep banking turn, cutting in on the Dominie, which was now in a straight approach.

The Airfield Controller, seeing that both aircraft were approaching to land, shone his red Aldis lamp at the Beaufighter to indicate that he should go round again. This warning was either ignored or not seen by the Beaufighter pilot. A dangerous situation had now arisen, and the Airfield Controller fired a red signal cartridge towards the Beaufighter; at the same time the Flying Control Officer gave R/T instructions to the Dominie to go round again. This instruction was not acknowledged. The Dominie opened up and started to make height in a gentle turning climb to port. The Beaufighter opened up also, but by reason of its attitude continued in a steep banking turn, and the two aircraft collided at a height of about 100’, just outside the perimeter of the airfield. The Dominie hit the underside of the Beaufighter with its starboard wing. The Dominie disintegrated and caught fire, crashing in flames on the edge of the airfield. The Beaufighter went into a steep dive, and crashed at the beginning of the runway in use, and caught fire on impact with the ground. All occupants of both aircraft were killed instantly with the exception of 2nd Lt. Peters of the USAAF who died a few minutes later on the way to sick quarters.”

Both aircraft crashed just within the barbed wire perimeter of the airfield next to Merchant Lane, Cranfield, at the end of a now disused runway locally called ‘The Policeman’s Runway’ (due to the proximity of the Police House).

Tragically eight people had died. Unusually the Beaufighter was carrying two passengers on the short trip from Twinwoods - WAAF Corporal Jose Cecilia Hayes, 22, of Paddington, London, and Flt Sgt (Pilot) Lionel Maxwell Amesbury, 25, of Weston-super-Mare. Its pilot, Flt Lt Michael William Kinmonth, 21, of Mount Meirian, Co Dublin, Irish Republic, was a holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

In the Dominie were five airmen - pilot Flt Lt Archibald Menzies Fitzrandolph, 47, and passengers Flt Lt Ian Harper Courtney and Sgt. Eric Povey, 22, of the RAF, and Americans 2nd Lt. M Schenker and 2nd Lt. J K Peters.

Sgt Povey is buried in his home town of Smethwick, Staffordshire and Flt Sgt Amesbury at Weston-super-Mare. The other four RAF personnel are buried at the RAF Regional Cemetery in Cambridge City Cemetery.

Sources:

1. https://www.ab-ix.co.uk/pdfs/dh89.pdf
2. https://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/crash-de-havilland-dh89-dominie-i-raf-cranfield-5-killed
3. Beaufighter R2252 crash: https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=15829
4. http://www.mackz.net/cm_samplearticles.htm#collision
5. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2651091/fitzrandolph,-archibald-menzies/
6. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2651004/courtney,-ian-harper/
7. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2713295/povey,-eric/
8. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?15399&p=91005#91005


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-Feb-2019 22:13 Dr. John Smith Added
11-Mar-2019 07:20 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]

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