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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 55308
Last updated: 8 October 2019
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Type:Silhouette image of generic hpvi model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Handley Page Victor B.1A
Owner/operator:57 Squadron Royal Air Force (57 Sqn RAF)
Registration: XH617
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Oakley, Suffolk, approx. 3 miles SE of Diss, Norfolk -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Honington, Suffolk (BEQ/EGXH)
Destination airport:
Written off when crashed on 19/7/1960. Different sources give differing locations as to exactly where Victor XH617 crashed. The official Board of Inquiry report states that the aircraft crashed near Oakley, Suffolk, approximately 3 miles south-east of Diss, Norfolk, and 15 miles east-south-east of RAF Honington.

Per eyewitenss report:

"[XH617] Took off around lunch time. I was on the see off crew. Alternator on a Port engine had a drive shaft failure. Caused a rupture in engine [or fuel tank?] which was unstoppable. Caught fire in flight. All bailed out-Pilot & Co-Pilot baled but only Pilot and AEO survived. GF

Flt. Lt. Bernard Wilding one of the three rear crew members should have been the second rear crew member to jump out via the escape hatch. However, the AEO's seat was unable to slide backwards initially to enable the AEO' to leave his seat. Flt. Lt. Bernard Wilding, who should have been the second rear crew member to escape the via the rear escape hatch, went back to assist the air electronics officer to slide his seat back and get out of his seat. Since the AEO was consequently standing between Flt. Lt. Bernard Wilding and the escape hatch, he told the AEO to escape before him and that he (Bernard Wilding) would follow him. This is what happened, and Flt. Lt. Wilding was the third rear crew member to jump out and not the second as he should have been, however his parachute opened and he was coming down on his parachute when there was a big explosion on the Victor aircraft.

As a consequence of the explosion a large part of one of the aircrafts wings broke off the Victor and hit Flt. Lt. Wilding as he was coming down on his parachute. The impact resulted in Flt. Lt. Wilding being killed as a result of being hit by the detached wing of the aircraft as he was descending on his parachute. It was a freak but tragic consequence of him delaying his escape to assist a fellow crew member to get out of his seat, which resulted in Bernard Wilding being killed as a consequence. The Air Electronics Officer survived the crash.

The Captain, Flight Lieutenant J Mudford and the Air Electronics Operator, Flying Officer G C Stewart, survived the accident."

The three crew members that were killed were:

Flying Officer Michael John WILKES Co Pilot
Flight Lieutenant John Bernard Paul WILDING Navigator (Radar)
Flight Lieutenant Rodney Syd BRISTOW Navigator (Plotter).


1. Air Britain: RAF Aircraft XA100 - XZ999, published 2001
3. Flight Lieutenant Rodney Syd BRISTOW was my father.
4. Information given above was revealed to me by a surviving crew member. Dilwyn Hardwidge

Related books:

Revision history:

24-Feb-2009 22:48 Radar Basher Updated
22-Aug-2011 09:09 Uli Elch Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Source, Narrative]
21-Jan-2012 03:27 DB Updated [Source, Narrative]
10-Apr-2012 23:26 Flt. Lt. Dilwyn Hard Updated [Departure airport, Embed code, Narrative]
07-May-2012 13:53 harro Updated [Source, Embed code]
08-Oct-2013 16:28 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
17-Oct-2013 18:59 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
07-Nov-2018 18:58 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

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