Unit History: Airfield Crash Rescue
17 O.T.U. formed at Upwood on the 4th April 1940, from the resident 35 and 90 squadrons, which were both equipped with Blenheims and Ansons. To allow for expansion, 17OTU was divided into four Flights on 14 May 1940:
’A’ (Conversion) Flight;
’B’ (Anson) Flight;
’C’ (Armament) Flight
and ’D’ (Operational Training) Flight.
17 O.T.U. left from Upwood on 24th April 1943 for Silverstone.
14 APRIL 1940 BLENHEIM I L1264
S/L/ H F CHESTER.
T/o Upwood. Damaged beyond repair after landing safely at 14.20, when the undercarriage was raised in mistake for the flaps. No one was hurt and, subsequently, the airframe was salvaged for instructional purposes. S/L Chester had accumulated 3,070 flying hours, 235 of these being on Blenheims. Tragically, within three months of this accident he was killed while flying with 82 squadron
10 May 1940 BLENHEIM IV L4889
P/O G M McFarland died
T/o Upwood. On return to base, stalled and came down 2240 at a spot know locally as Green Dyke. Until recently P/O McFarland, a New Zealander, had been head prefect at Nelson College; He rests in Bury Cemetery, Huntingdonshire.
24 MAY BLENHEIM IV P4907
P/O I A Mead injured
Sgt A R Jackson died
AC2 R South died
T/o Upwood for a navigation exercise;base-Pershore-Fishguard-Criccieth-Aberystwyth-base. Crashed 1155 in Tremadog Bay at the eastern end of the Lieyn Peninsular
5 JUNE 1940 ANSON I N5112
Sgt M H Farmer
T/o Upwood for a W/T exercise, involving the taking of loop bearings. Forced-landing 1130 in a rough field, due to engine failure, near towcester, 9 miles SSW from Northampton and was wrecked after swinging into a hedge
12 JUNE 1940 BLENHEIM IV L9172
Sgt V A Bain
Sgt W H Wheeler died
AC2 S Boulton died
T/o Upwood for a navigation exercise; base-Lundy Island-Exmouth-base. At 1223, while flying at 20,000 feet, the pilot radioed “breaking up” and soon afterwards eyewitnesses saw the Blenheim falling in a series of uneven rolls and slowly disintegrating.
15 JULY 1940 BLENHEIM IV L9171
F/O W H Powdrell
T/o Upwood. Crashed-landed 0625, prompted by engine failure, at Great Raveley
20 JULY 1940 BLENHIEM IV L8844
Sgt E Kibble injured
T/o Upwood on a navigation exercise; base-Hungerford-Worcester-base. During the flight, an engine failed and Sgt Kibble, while trying to stretch his glide, stalled and crashed 1230 in a wheat field near Newnham Courtney, 1 mile SSE of Daventry Northamptonshire. All Three airmen were injured but no information on the other two names
28 JULY1940 BLENHEIM IV L4869
P/O A B Smith
T/o Upwood. Forced-landing, wheels retracted, due to engine failure, 0745, near Whitchurch, 5 miles NNW of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
3 AUG 1940 BLENHEIM IV L8846
Sgt N C Green
T/o 0609 Upwood and crashed a minute later following loss of power from an engine
7 AUG 1940 BLENHEIM IV P4902
F/L E P Mortimer died
Sgt D A Gibbs died
Sgt D F Alves died
T/o Upwood. Spun and crashed near North Crawley, 3 miles ENE of Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire F/l Mortimer and Sgt Alves, both regulars, rest in Bury Cemetery, while Devonian, Sgt Gibbs was taken home to lie in paignton Cemetery
Flight Ltnt Edward Patrick Mortimer was the pilot of a Blenheim MkIV P4902 that stalled and spun into the ground near Cranfield on the evening of 7th August 1940. At the Public Record Office is the following abridged Accident Report: Mertlands Farm, North Crawley, Bucks, at 2235hrs on 7th August, 1940. The pilot’s instructions were to fly from Upwood to Bicester 53 miles, Bicester to Northampton, 25 miles and back to base 33? miles. At a time when the aeroplane should have been near Northampton it was seen flying in an easterly direction 20 miles SE of the scheduled course and close to Cranfield aerodrome where night flying was taking place. When opposite the wireless telegraphy station the machine was seen to stagger. Five seconds later at about 1500 ft and while still in flying position it lost speed and spun to the ground. The aeroplane struck the ground at a moderate speed and came to a stop pointing east, the engines were not at the time. From its position and the proximity of trees immediately behind it could be judged to have been flattening out, probably in a left hand spin. Fire occurred immediately and destroyed all the centre of the machine. All safety belts were burnt. One body was found in the navigator’s compartment and one in the gunner’s cockpit. The third, that of the pilot, was lying face down 72 yards east of the wreckage and he had evidently fallen from a considerable height. His parachute was unopened and was on the ground 4 ft away; the harness was free. The rip- cord had not been pulled. No parts broken or otherwise were found to show the circumstances under which he left the machine. The engines were extensively damaged by fire were stripped but appeared to have been in good order at the time of the accident. Examination of the pilot’s parachute harness showed that the release ring had not been turned and while in the locked position had been driven back by direct impact on the front. This had forced the spin- loaded plunger out through the aluminium casing and had released the catches and then the harness. From this it may be seen that the harness was in position on the pilot’s striking the ground. The investigation concluded that the pilot may have lost his way, was trying to identify Cranfield aerodrome and on suddenly becoming aware of the risk of collision with the night flying machines stalled the aeroplane while climbing. Alternatively it was thought possible that on loosing sight of the aerodrome flares he lost control in the “black-out”. There is no reference to the heroic actions of Aircraftsman Hollowday.
34 RAF headstones at Bury Cemetery, Cambridgeshire which includes Flight Ltnt Edward Patrick Mortimer. Also killed in the accident were Sgt (Air Gnr.) Dennis Frank ALVES RAF, aged 21, son of James and Ethel Alves, of Walsall, Staffordshire Sgt (Obs.) David Allen GIBBS RAFVR, son of Frederick Henry and Kathleen Ethel Gibbs, of Paignton. Gibbs is buried in his home town while Alves, with Mortimer, is buried in Bury Cemetery near RAF Upwood.
Many thanks to Patrick Casey for the use of this information.
Information and picture came from Clifton Rugby Football Club History http://www.cliftonrfchistory.co.uk/
14 AGU 1940 BLENHEIM IV L8839
F/S T J Watkins
T/o Upwood. Wrecked after crash-landing at base with a jammed undercarriage
28 AUG 1940 BLENHEIM IV L8843
P/O H M Hoadley RNZAF died
T/o Upwood 2145 for solo night flying practice and crashed almost immediately, bursting into flames. P/O Hoadley is buried locally in Bury Cemetery
3 SEP 1940 BLENHEIM IV R3621
Sgt J W Turner died
Sgt M Tanner died
Sgt W Parker injured
T/o Upwood but was in trouble immediately and crashed at Bury, 7 miles NNE of Huntingdon.
4 SEP 1940 BLENHEIM I L8682
P/O D Rockel
T/o Upwood for night flying practice but within minutes P/O Rockel was obliged to parachute, leaving his Blenheim to crash and burn near Warboys airfield.
22 SEP 1940 BLENHEIM I L8610
Sgt H H Wilson died
P/O A D Coplestone died
Sgt J November died
T/o Upwood for a navigation exercise. Smashed into the summit of Garn Wen at around 1510, this being in the SE corner of the Brecon Beacons, near Abersychan, 4 miles NNW of Pontypool. Sgt Wilson was brought back to Upwood for burial in Bury cemetery.
Also see Dedication to Blenheim L8610 in the menu bar
Many thanks go to Ken Clark who sent this to me
On Sunday 22nd September 1940, Blenheim L8610 took off from RAF Upwood on an Operational Training Excersise with No 17 O.T.U. At around 2pm the aircraft crashed on the summit of Garn Wen, a mountain near Pontypool in the Eastern valley of Monmouthshire. The first person to arrive on the scene was PC Tom Jarvis. RAF St Athan were informed of the crash and arruved at 8.30am the next morning. During the night PC Jarvis slept in a tent near the bomber to deter lo