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Military aircraft crashes in the north west Midlands - 1944

Details of the crashes and the names of the aircrew involved appear on this page. Please contact us if you are related to somebody on the list, or know of a photograph of them. If original photographs or papers are still in the family, we can help to caption photographs and explain the codes and nicknames that were used at the time. We appreciate the opportunity to copy original material for the museum's archive.

The Midland Aircraft Recovery Group has found the sites of many of the crashes, but we are still looking for a significant number, so we'd like to hear from anyone who can pinpoint a crash that we've listed. We are always looking for photographs, log books and anecdotes relevant to the units based in the Midlands.

The details below are have been compiled from numerous sources of information in the public domain over many years. We've done our best, but errors are inevitable. Please contact us if you have more accurate information on any of the crashes or people listed, or can add the names of crew that we haven't traced. Thank you.

10 February 1944 (10/02/1944) Wellington X HF516 of 30 Operational Training Unit undershot its landing and crashed on a building site within the airfield boundary at Hixon. The pilot, Sgt W E Keeler and three of his crew escaped from the aircraft before it was engulfed in flames but Sgt A J Welstead, the Wireless Operator found his parachute harness tangled in the wreckage. A passing bread roundsman, Cyril Fradley ran through the flames and dragged Sgt Welstead clear but the airman died of his injuries the next day. Mr Fradley was hospitalized for five months recovering from burns and was awarded the BEM.

20 February 1944 (20/02/1944) Whitley LA927 of 42 Operational Training Unit Crashed at Upper Longdon after hitting a tree during a forced landing. Its crew of four were killed: Sgt William Ivor Roberts, Sgt Fredrick Hill, Sgt William J Constable, Sgt Vincent Joseph Ashmore.

21 February 1944 (20/02/1944) Wellington X HE211 of 27 Operational Training Unit crash landed 2 miles SW of the aerodrome at Lichfield. Sgt N A Hallam and Sgt J C Lee were injured.

24 February 1944 (20/02/1944) Wellington X HE903 of 30 Operational Training Unit crashed at Ranton. The crew, as follows, were all killed: F/O E Ryan, F/O W O Thompson, F/O C J Yeates, Sgt D D Roblin, Sgt D H Hearton.

3 March 1944 (03/03/1944) Oxford V3723 of 21 Pilots advanced Flying Unit crashed at Yoxall. F/Sgt E L Maybee was killed.

5 March 1944 (05/03/1944) Tiger Moth T6299 of 28 Elementary Flying Training School dived into ground 1 mile west of Bishop’s Wood, Staffs. Sgt J W R Arnold and F/Sgt E J Evans were both killed.

11 March 1944 (11/03/1944) Tomahawk I AH832 of 1686 Flt, based at Hixon was caught by a cross-wind on take-off and crashed on a railway embankment. F/O C S Chapman was unhurt.

15 March 1944 (15/03/1944) Anson I  R3381 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit, based at Halfpenny Green, overshot landing. Fate of crew unknown.

25 March 1944 (25/03/1944) Wellington X LN229 of 18 Operational Training Unit suffered a collapsed undercarriage on landing at RAF Lichfield. Pilot F/Sgt R Mansell and crew unhurt.

10 April 1944 (10/04/1944) Wellington X HE165 of 27 Operational Training Unit crash landed at Lichfield following engine failure whilst on a Nickel operation. Crew including F/Sgt V K Gratton RAAF and F/Sgt A V Pearson RAAF were unhurt.

16 April 1944 (16/04/1944) Spitfire II P8095 of 61 Operational Training Unit hit a tree in fog, Grub Street, High Offley, Staffordshire. Sgt Marian Krenz (Polish) was killed. While flying with 65 Squadron, this aircraft had survived a collision with a Bf109 on 26 June 1941.

26 April 1944 (26/04/1944) Wellington III DF640 of 30 Operational Training Unit, Hixon flew into Weston Bank on a second attempt at landing: F/O N A R Mousdell, Sgt E D MacDonald, Sgt H D Purbrick were all killed.

28 April 1941 (28/04/1944) Halifax II HR847 of 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit, force landed at Lichfield Aerodrome following an engine failure. Crew unhurt.

30 April 1944 (30/04/1944) Mosquito  NT192 of 1 Ferry Pool flew into a railway bank near Lichfield. F/O W L Godwin was killed.

3 May 1944 (03/05/1944) Wellington III DF622 of 30 Operational Training Unit suffered an engine failure on take-off from Hixon; attempted to go round again but came down short of the airfield. Crew Sgt K Sidwell, F/Lt Gaunt, Sgt A B Howell were unhurt.

23 May 1944 (23/05/1944) Tiger Moth T6689 of 28 Elementary Flying Training School crashed on landing at Penkridge. Fate of pilot unknown.

1 June 1944 (01/06/1944) Anson N9738 of 3 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit collided with Anson EF927 shortly after take-off from Halfpenny Green and crashed on the airfield.
F/Sgt P Lane, Sgt A Brown, Sgt R Thwaite, Sgt R Clark, Sgt D W Dixon were all killed.  The crew of EF927 survived.

5 June 1944 (05/06/1944) Martinet HP384 of 27 Operational training Unit got into a spin in cloud and crashed near the airfield. F/Sgt G B Mc Sweeney RAAF, P/O A R Duel RAAF were both killed.

7 June 1944 (07/06/1944) Oxford V3321 of 21 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit hit a HT cable and crash landed 1 mile south of Harlaston. There were no casualties.

10 June 1944 (10/06/1944) Wellington X HE820 of 30 Operational Training Unit stalled during an overshoot whilst on circuits and landings practice. F/Lt A Maclean and Sgt D Kelly were killed; three other crew members were injured.

4 July 1944 (04/07/1944) An unidentified P-47 force landed near Wheaton Aston and slid into the Shropshire Union Canal. The pilot was unhurt.

13 July 1944 (13/07/1944) Beaufighter VIF X7550 of 288 Squadron flew into trees in bad visibility and crashed at Wychnor Bridges NE of Lichfield Aerodrome. Pilot, F/O George Edward Hobdell was killed.

16 July 1944 (16/07/1944) Wellington X NC678, 30 Operational Training Unit caught fire when hit by a practice bomb dropped by another aircraft. The crew failed to hear the pilot’s order to abandon and were still in the aircraft when it crashed at Huntingdon, Staffs. F/O S D Mann RCAF, Sgt P C H Mullins RCAF, F/Sgt J H Jones RCAF and Sgt J D D Walt RAF were all killed. Sgt D L Phillips RCAF escaped, but was injured.

18 July 1944 (18/07/1944) Wellington X MF584 of 27 Operational Training Unit had its starboard engine fall out due to metal fatigue caused by vibration. The crew abandoned the aircraft, which fell at Marchington. Pilot F/Sgt J S Walker RAAF and crew were unhurt.

20 July 1944 (20/07/1944) Anson DJ510 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit was landing at Halfpenny Green when the pilot did not ensure the flaps were in the correct landing setting and were only at 30 degrees. The aircraft ran over the end of the runway and finished in a ditch.

20 July 1944 (20/07/1944) Messerschmitt Bf108 B-1 DK280 (German werke number 2039, British civil registration G-AFRN). The aircraft was on the strength of Maintenance Command Communications Squadron when it suffered an engine failure whilst on a test flight and crashed at Colton, Staffs.

24 July 1944 (20/07/1944) Wellington III HF735 of 30 Operational Training Unit caught fire and burnt out during maintenance at Hixon Aerodrome.

25 July 1944 (25/07/1944) Tiger Moth T6820 of 16 Elementary Flying Training School crashed in forced landing at Walton on Trent.

27 July 1944 (27/07/1944) Hurricane I V6793 of 5 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit dived into the ground near Stafford. F/Sgt R H T Martin was killed.

30 July 1944 (30/07/1944) Wellington X LP437 of 27 Operational Training Unit stalled and crashed in circuit on return from night bombing practice. The crew were all killed: F/Sgt Fredrick Luckman Stephens RAAF, F/Sgt Ray Kethel Bolger RAAF, F/Sgt John H Normyle RAAF, Sgt Hugh A Smyth RAAF, Sgt Earl Hume Beatson RAAF, F/Sgt Jack J Manners RAAF.

1 August 1944 (01/08/1944) Lancaster B1 LL849 of 101 Squadron descended to establish position in adverse weather, but hit a tree and crashed near Lichfield Aerodrome.
F/O N M Cornelius injured, Sgt Lipfriand  injured, Sgt Middlehurst injured,  F/Sgt William G Evanson killed, Sgt Alexander Holmes killed, Sgt Leonard A Street killed, Sgt S B Eales injured, Sgt A J Clarke injured.

7 August 1944 (07/08/1944) Wellington X JA533 of 30 Operational Training Unit had its port engine catch fire in the circuit and flames spread to the wing. The pilot, W/O A D Groome, landed the aircraft safely at Seighford aerodrome and the nine men aboard had abandoned it before it came to a halt! Also on board F/L McKinnon and F/L G A Kirby.

8 August 1944 (08/08/1944) Wellington X LN588 of 30 Operational Training Unit returned to Seighford early from a fighter affiliation exercise with hydraulic failure. It overshot landing and smashed the undercarriage. Pilot F/O G C Rogerson and crew were unhurt.

11 August 1944 (11/08/1944) Wellington III DF612 of 30 Operational Training Unit was damaged beyond repair in a heavy landing at Hixon.

17 August 1944 (17/08/1944) Oxford EB731 of 21 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit on approaching Tatenhill airfield, the pilot failed to notice another aircraft landing below him. On being given a red light warning, he banked too steeply to starboard and the wing tip hit the ground causing the aircraft to ‘cartwheel’. The pilot escaped with injuries.

26 August 1944 (26/08/1944) Anson DJ663 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit was on a beam approach to Halfpenny Green through cloud when it struck trees and crashed at Six Ashes. F/Sgt M F J Cox killed, P/O J L Staples injured, F/O N E Trusty killed, Sgt C D R Verrier killed, P/O A J Welham injured.

26 August 1944 (26/08/1944) Wellington X HE224 of 30 Operational Training Unit was engaged in night circuits and landings when it stalled onto a railway embankment. Pilot F/Sgt R E George and crew were unhurt.

26 August 1944 (26/08/1944) Wellington X LP675 of 105 Operational Training Unit crashed whilst making a forced landing near Kinver and was destroyed by fire. Crew of three escaped.

13 August 1944 (13/08/1944) Anson DJ583 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit was landing at Halfpenny Green, when the pilot swung the aircraft at the end of its landing run and it was damaged (beyond repair?).

13 September 1944 (13/09/44) Tiger Moth DE846 of 28 Elementary Flying Training School was approaching to land at Wolverhampton when it undershot and overturned.

16 September 1944 (16/09/1944) Anson EG168 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit was involved in a mid-air collision over Halfpenny Green Airfield with Anson EG293, which landed safely. (This aircraft was itself destroyed in a ground collision three months later, see below.)  EG168’s crew of four were killed. W/O1 Ivor Donald Olson RCAF, F/S Norman Sadler, P/O Myrddyn Rees Hopkins, Sgt Donald (Don) Horace Bates.

18 September 1944 (18/09/1944) Wellington LP436 of 27 Operational Training Unit failed to pull out of a dive in time and crashed 4 miles west of Lichfield. The RAAF crew of five, as follows, were killed. F/Sgt L D Southwood, F/O E C Buckland, F/Sgt D Fletcher, F/Sgt D R McDonald, F/O J M Ruglen. (3 of the five men were still teenagers.)

26 September 1944 (26/09/1944) Wellington X LN711 of 30 Operational Training Unit suffered an engine failure on take-off from Seighford, overshot and was wrecked; crew unhurt. Pilot: F/O J S Walker RAAF.

16 October 1944 (16/10/1944) Wellington III X3357 of 30 Operational Training Unit was on a night navigational detail when it transmitted a request for a course to steer at 21.41 hrs. Nine minutes later it crashed into a wood in Ingestre Park. The RAAF crew of five, as follows, were all killed. F/S P E B Vallender, F/O P J Castle, P/O R C Parker, F/O W P Heatley, F/O G B Sandilands.

25 October 1944 (25/10/1944) Hurricane IIc LF170 of 30 Operational Training Unit crashed into a tree near the Officers’ Mess at Seighford. F/O A V Browne RAAF was killed.

27 October 1944 (27/10/1944) Wellington III BK146 of 30 Operational Training Unit caught fire on its take-off run; the pilot raised the undercarriage to stop and the aircraft burnt out. Sgt W B Pollock and crew were unhurt.

8 November 1944 (08/11/1944) Wellington X JA343 of 27 OTU broke up in the air a mile from Church Broughton airfield, when 20 minutes into a night exercise.  Sgt J S Hood RCAF, Sgt H L Fernstrom RCAF, Sgt J F Gazzard RCAF, Sgt A White RAAF, Sgt W J Drozdiak RCAF and Sgt B I Williams were all killed.

20 November 1944 (20/11/1944) Wellington X LP569 of 30 Operational Training Unit was destroyed in a hangar fire at Hixon.

22 November 1944 (22/11/1944) Mosquito HJ650 of 60 OTU was flying in formation when the pilot lost control and the aircraft crashed in West Bromwich. P/O Jan Antoni Lillikmaa (Polish) and F/Sgt Jerzy Hara (Polish) were both killed.

24 November 1944 (24/11/1944) Mosquito DZ429 of 1655 Mosquito Training Unit entered a spin which caused the starboard engine bearers to fail. The aircraft crashed near Lichfield. The pilot and navigator, were killed: F/O R M Jones RCAF, F/O D G MacKenzie.

13 December 1944 (13/12/1944) Anson EG293 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit was hit by Oxford HN593 whilst parked at Halfpenny Green.

17 December 1944 (17/12/1944)  Anson N9875 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit crashed 2 miles north of Lichfield. The pilot became lost, failed to manage the fuel system properly and, when an engine failed owing to fuel starvation, he attempted a wheels down landing in a field, but the aircraft ‘nosed-over’.

17 December 1944 (17/12/1944) Oxford LB515 of 3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit crashed 1.5 miles N.N.E  of Halfpenny Green, circumstances unknown. Pilot F/O B. Smith RNZAF.

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