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Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs

Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
19:53:07 Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Post:
As a newcomer to this board and this kind of research, I see a short exchange of posts between Henk Welting and Ken MacClean on 02-May-2006, raising the possibility of structural failure. Have seen the newspaper clipping suggesting it, and gather that Ansons were all grounded eventually, due to concerns re the integrity of the beetle-glue adhesive used in the wings. Have also seen an eyewitness report of an alleged in-flight failure in Cumberland on 14-Oct-1943. (Is all this old hat?)

Nevertheless, the family of the Canadian navigator were led to believe it was crew error.

Now living near the crash site, I am curious that the event is not in any local records. Recently obtained a list of the 5 occupants (all killed) from a local historian, and have tracked down the Canadian nav's cousin, who happens to live in the area. The presence of this RCAF nav has not been explained - apparently he normally flew with a Canadian crew. As there were 2 Wing Commanders on board, including the CO of the unit (34 WSU), presume there would have been an enquiry board.

The site was on or adjacent to a Canadian army camp on Alderstead Heath, Dean Lane, Merstham (about 3 miles SW of RAF Kenley). A kind informant tells me Air-Britain records that the A/C "lost a wing section, possibly after hitting trees in cloud." As it was alleged to be en-route from Northolt to Belgium or France, it seems odd that it should be cruising intentionally (or unintentionally) at about 600 ft amsl, maybe in cloud, over the North Downs.

Can anybody tell me - a rookie in this field:

(1) if transcripts of accident boards of the period are available;

(2) assuming the A/C departed Northolt in 1944 with altimeter set on the Northolt QFE, at what stage would the setting normally have been changed, and to what;

(3) how to obtain Met records (synoptics, obs, etc.);

(4) any other info on Ansons in general, and NK607 and this flight in particular.

Thanks, Chris


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: mcmillan_p
Time Stamp:
14:08:37 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
There may be a an accident report on it a Kew

Unfortuately in the timeframe Sep 44, the reports are not Catalogued on line if there was a report it should be in AVIA 5/23 and in Report Nos.: W1751 - W2080


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott (Guest)
Time Stamp:
16:11:02 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
Thanks mcmillan_p,

Have phoned Kew, and they guided me to their on-line catalogue. It shows AVIA 5/22 as containing 9 Anson reports in 1943-Jan1944 (W1490 - W1743) 5/23 contains only one report, W2082 of Jan1945 (Anson NL-128 at Northolt). 5/24 contains only W2125 of Apr1945. 5/25 contains only W2191 of Apr1945. [Do the dates apply to the report or the accident?]

This is all in line with what you say. Unfortunately, it looks as if all the reports in that range are missing. They have at least got the 14-10-1943 accident in Cumberland, however, as well as correspondence relating to "essential modifications to the Avro XIX and Anson aircraft before issue of a (C of A)", dated 1946-1983 (closed until 2005).

Thanks again, Chris


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Henk Welting (Guest)
Time Stamp:
17:14:42 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
Chris/Paul,

I've on file that the a/c hit a tree with the wing flying in bad weather conditions; the phrase "structural failure" came from a clipping on the CVWM-website (Canadian Virtual War Memorial). Only have the navigator's name on file (F/O Walter D.D. COOPER - J/39012). Do you have names of the other casualties as - as far as I know - a total of five were killed; one of them O/C 34 WSU).

Best regards,

Henk.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott (Guest)
Time Stamp:
18:12:07 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
Hello Henk,

Wondered if you were still waiting for that list of the 5 souls-on-board (no survivors):

W/C R B Cox, RAFO (CO of 34 WSU, age 31);

W/C C F M Chapman, RAF (age 25);

F/L P H W Priestley, RAFVR (age 23);

F/O (Nav) W D D "David" Cooper, RCAF (age 29);

F/S (Nav,W/O) A S Kay (age N.A.).

The mystery is: why were they flying that low?

Totsiens, Chris



RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Dennis_Burke
Time Stamp:
18:17:37 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
Chris,

drop a line to the Canadian Archives at

Personnel Records Unit,

Library and Archives Canada,

395 Wellington Street,

Ottawa,

ON K1A 0N3

(613) 947 8456

And request a copy of Coopers service file, you MIGHT, MIGHT be lucky and it may contain useful info such as a Form 765 crash report.

Worth a try.

Dennis

Foreign aircraft and their crews in Ireland 1939 - 1945.

www.skynet.ie/%7Edan/war/crashes.htm


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott (Guest)
Time Stamp:
18:25:45 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
Thank you, Dennis. I'll give it a try.

Chris


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott (Guest)
Time Stamp:
18:36:59 Saturday, February 10, 2007
Post:
Hello again, Dennis,

Have phoned Canada on the above number and, although it's early afternoon Tuesday over there, it seems to be a Fax. Any chance you've got an alternative number, please?

Chris


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Henk Welting (Guest)
Time Stamp:
09:27:03 Saturday, March 10, 2007
Post:
Thanks Chris for info on the crew.

Regards,

Henk.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
01:35:14 Monday, December 10, 2007
Post:
SOULS-ON-BOARD UPDATE

In the 10 days since Post 4, above, a bit more info has come to hand, much of it from you guys.

W/Cdr Chapman was O/C 140 Squadron (Mosquitos, photo-reconnaisance, attached to 34 Wing).

F/Lt Priestley was a "Radar Officer".

F/Sgt Kay was RAFVR.

So this accident resulted in the loss of two commanding officers at a time when the Wing was presumably at full stretch.

Anson NK607 was with 34 WSU (Wing Support Unit), based at Northolt. It served 34 Wing, which was with 2nd TAF and did photographic and strategic reconnaisance (Day & Night) for GHQ. [See also the "34 Wing Support Unit" thread on this board.]

34 Wing apparently consisted of 4 squadrons: 16 Sqdn (PR, Spitfires); 140 Sqdn (PR, Mosquitos); 69 Sqdn (PR, Wellingtons); and 1401 Met Flight (Spitfires). In the summer of 1944 it was still based at Northolt. In the aftermath of D-Day (06Jun) 34 Wing was being readied to move its base to the Continent.

As part of the preparations, 34WSU was formed on 26Jul1944 for transport and, maybe, training. It remained at Northolt while 34 Wing itself moved to "A.12 Airfield" ("on the Continent" = Lignerolles?) on 01Sep; to B.48 Airfield (Amiens/Glisy) on 08-10Sep; and to "B.56 Airfield" (Melsbroek) on 26-28Sep [referred to as "B.58 Airfield" from 01-Oct, for reasons not explained].

34 Wing's move to Melsbroek fully accounts for Anson NK607's flight of 29-Sep, conveying the O/C of 140 Sqdn and 1 or 2 others to their new base. F/Lt Priestley seems likely to be one of these, but we don't know yet whether either of the qualified navigators on board was in 140 Sqdn or 69 Sqdn, or if they were both in the WSU. Am equally unable to establish whether the pilot was W/Cdr Cox or W/Cdr Chapman. Cox seems the more likely, being WSU, but I don't yet know if he was a pilot. None of the other 3 appears to be a pilot.

Any ideas, Chaps?

Am still trying to obtain a fuller accident report than "lost wing, possibly after hitting tree in cloud / on high ground." Waiting for replies from Ottawa and Farnborough. They would have had no business at 600 feet amsl and mis-setting or misreading of altimeter is looking unlikely (see "Altimeter setting procedures..." thread).


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
16:24:31 Thursday, May 10, 2007
Post:
UPDATE

My enquiries are proceeding slowly, thanks to a lot of help from some of you guys. Am starting to look at the possible met. aspects, with useful suggestions from Peter (see the "Altimeter setting procedures WW2 RAF" string). But I need to know the approximate time and flight plan, so my first priority is to see the ACCIDENT REPORT.

Following mcmillan_p's suggestion, I went to Kew yesterday (National Archive). His warning that reports around Sep-1944 might be missing proved correct. For the uninitiated, the WW2 Investigation reports are contained in folders, with all A/C types lumped together. I hope the following may be of some use to other rookie researchers (like myself).

The folders are designated AVIA 5/.., numbered in ascending chronological order. So, in my area of interest, AVIA 5/22 covers accidents dates 19-Dec-1942 - 20-Jan-1944 and contains Investigations W1400 - W1750. The next folder, AVIA 5/23, covers 29-Jan-1945 - 27-Mar-1945, and contains W2081 - W2120 only.

You will note that, as mcmillan_p says, reports W1751 - W2080, covering most of 1944, appear to have gone missing at some stage (perhaps from AVIA 5/23). I did not have time to seek an explanation yesterday, but their current absence presents any researcher into 1944 accidents with a problem.

The documents seem to be carbon copies, mainly on foolscap or quarto poaper, and are in a parlous state. They are headed "Accidents Investigation Branch" and individually signed "for C.I." (chief inspector?). The Anson ones in 1943/5 are all signed by the same person. Their almost shocking brevity (typically around 300 words) is probably explained by the constraints and workload at the time, and that they are clearly titled as "Precis".

There are 9 Anson precis-reports in AVIA 5/22 (covering 1943). I overlooked one. Of the remaining 8, one was a stall in initial climb and one was a non-fatal collapse of L/G (undercarriage).

The remaining 6 reports all involved divers structural failures of the wing. Of these 6, the first 2 were roundly blamed on the (deceased) pilots, both of whom were reported to have illegally "rolled" (barrel-rolled?) the aeroplane before bits were seen to fall off. "Note: The Anson is not designed for aerobatics..."

The 3rd accident of the 6 was attributed to pilot-mishandling following "sudden seizure of the port engine". This failure would have prevented the propeller being feathered. The aeroplane rolled to the left (presumably as it yawed to the left) and dived steeply. A 4-square-foot piece of 3-ply wooden skin from the lower surface of the outer left wing was found a mile from the crash site.

I then overlooked W1617, but the remaining 3 reports recognised spontaneous structural failure and contained the following footnote:

"A meeting was held at M.A.P. (?) under the chairmanship of D.D/R.D.T. (?) on 10.11.43, at which structural failures in Anson aircraft were fully discussed.

"As a result, a number of strength tests are to be made on an Anson wing by the Royal Aircraft Establishment. In addition it was recommended that only straight-and-level flying should be permitted (sic!) and that the existing restrictions on the type should be emphasised."

The last of the above accidents in 1943 was at Whitehaven, Cumberland. The Anson was on a nav. exercise with a crew of 5 in good weather. "..it was seen flying normally over Whitehaven at.. 1,500 ft. when suddenly the port wing was (seen) to break off in the vicinity of the fuselage side and fold upwards."

"The primary failure was the fracture of the port mainplane spars in upload at the fuselage attachment points."

"..this accident provides the first instance IN THIS COUNTRY (my capitals) of an Anson wing spar failure inboard of the engine nacelles. On ALL (my capitals) other occasions.. fracture has occurred outboard of the engines. The fact that the all-up weight (of the aircraft) was greater than any previous case may possibly be significant."

Nearly a year later, NK607, with 5 occupants, may have been at a similar or higher weight on its way to France or Belgium. Had any mods been done since January '44, when the Whitehaven report was published?


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: BillWalker
Time Stamp:
01:57:29 Monday, December 10, 2007
Post:
This may just be a coincidence, but I am currently entering Canadian built Anson data into my database, and I've seen a number of Mk. Vs being returned to the manufacturer starting in April (maybe earlier) 1944 and continuing as late as February 1945 for "wing mod". These all had wooden wings, basically the same as UK built machines. Sorry, no more details on the modifications found yet.

Bill Walker

Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers

www.ody.ca/%7Ebwalker/


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
12:41:01 Monday, December 10, 2007
Post:
That makes sense, Bill. There's no doubt that a lot of Ansons were flying well after the war, though am not sure if they included early ones like the Anson I, and its Canadian-built contemporaries (Mks II, V and VI, the Mk IV being British-built but re-engined in Canada, according to Jane's 1945/6). The Canadians may even have redesigned the fuselage as wooden rather than metalic, but they all seem to share the same wooden wing.

Anson and/or Avro 19s continued to be built after the war. From 1946 to 1983, the UK Air Registration Board received many applications for civil C of A in respect of various specimens of Anson/Avro19, but - frustratingly - the resulting correspondence (UK National Archive catalogue AIR 4/189) gives no hint of any current or previous structural concerns. Stipulations are limited to matters like engine fire-extinguishing, and seat-mounting deceleration capabilities (lack of).

Correspondnce with the manufacturer indicates that relations between the ARB and A.V. Roe were not always warm: this exemplified by a handwritten note appended to one letter from Avro, in which an ARB official expresses exasperation re. their failure to establish coherent distinctions between the numerous marks of aeroplane, or even the distinction between the Anson and the Avro 19. Had Avro merely moved on to more exciting products, or were they instinctively reluctant to be too specific about the precise history of the Anson fleet?

Having got your news, I am assuming that, following the proposed wing tests by the RAE in early 1944 (see my post 9, paragraph 9), a fix was designed and a programme started in Canada and, presumably, the UK.

Later Ansons may have had all-metal or partially-metal wings, but I've no specific information. Some of the failures in 1943 involve the plywood skin peeling off the plywood structure; not that this was necessarily the primary failure. Jane's 1945/6 states that "bakelite plywood, which is stronger than casein plywood, and impervious to water, is used throughout." Was this the 1944 'fix', or the original design?

In later years, there seem to have been further problems with early Ansons. Have read that the Australians may have withdrawn the Anson I type-certificate in 1952, due to some accidents attributed to failure of a Beetle-type adhesive used in the construction (in common with Miles Magisters and Messengers, and Percival Q6 and Proctor). Though synthetic, the Beetle adhesive allegedly deteriorated in a humid climate. The fix may have been a resin adhesive called resorcinal(?). The same source suggests the UK ARB followed suit in 1962, but I saw no mention of this in the correspondence at the National Archive.

This all seems long, vague and complicated. Are there any Anson experts out there, who can shed any light on these matters?


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: tomthorne83
Time Stamp:
08:34:08 Saturday, October 13, 2007
Post:
Hi Chris, as i was looking at a couple of Anson accidents at Hendon yesterday, i thought i would have a quick look for your accident on the 29th September 1944. Here is what the accident card has to say:

Unit - 34 WSU.

Accident occured at Dean Lane, and what looks like Maston, Surrey (obviously should read Merstham).

Pilot was W/Cdr R B Cox (37159) and four others killed (not named).

Took off "ferrying to France" at 09.40 hrs, accident occured at 10.00 hrs in daylight.

"Aircraft seen to break cloud and four feet of wing fall off before it struck the ground all crew killed. It is believed aircraft first hit a tree breaking wing.

Aircraft out of control after first striking obstruction.

It cannot be established why the pilot flew low. It is not believed he flew low deliberatley as he knew low cloud covered hill tops.

An adverse weather report had been given to pilot. Low clouds covered hill tops.

AOC and AOC i/c - It is opinion of CIA due to loss of control when flying in cloud, striking a tree and then crashing. AOC and AOC i/c concur."

I'm afraid it still doesn't give you an answer as to why the pilot was flying low. If you wish to see a copy of the card, i took a photo of it, so just email me at tomthorne83ATyahooDOTcoDOTuk

Hope its useful to you, Tom



RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
11:23:33 Saturday, October 13, 2007
Post:
That's the biggest break I've had so far, Tom. Thank you. Am still waiting for a reply from the AAIB to my enquiry re the possibility that they (or someone else) may have the top copy of the Investigation precis-report. In the absence of that, the accident card you quote is 10 times beter than anything else I've got.

STRUCTURAL FAILURE THEORY

As previously noted, 34 Wing must have been under immense pressure and they were in the process of switching their base from Amiens to Melsbroek (Brussels), which was apparently completed by the following day (Saturday 30th). The Anson 'fleet' of 34 WSU may have been indispensable, so there MIGHT have been pressure to go for crew error rather than bring the integrity of the Anson into question again.

Need to establish what mod programme, if any, followed the RAE wing test (see above post 12, paragraph 4). Might Hendon have some news on that?

ALTIMETER MIS-SETTING/MISREADING THEORY

At risk of repeating myself, no one in his right mind would be deliberately cruising in cloud anywhere at 500 ft, and that includes the south of England. A convenient and comfortable altitude for an Anson would be 2000-3000 ft, traffic permitting (Kenley is about 3 miles to the N.E.).

As discussed on the "Altimeter setting procedures..." thread, the Anson should have got airborne at Northolt with its altimeter reading zero ft (i.e., subscale set on the Northolt QFE). Northolt is 124 ft amsl. Preliminary enquiries suggest that the sea-level pressure (QFF) was RISING slowly as they flew south (the benign scenario for aircrew), but by an insignificant amount.

If the subscale setting was left on the Northolt QFE, the altimeter would have been reading about 500 ft as they hit the ground (or tree) at about 600 ft amsl on the Downs near Dean Lane. In the event that they had reset the altimeter to a regional QFF, they would have expected to turn the subscale up by a small amount, say 4 or 5 mb.

To introduce an altimeter error whereby it would over-read by 1000 ft (for purpose of argument), they would have had to overset it by about 35 mb. As the QFF appears to have been of the order of 1019, this would have required them to mis-set the subscale to somethng over 1050 mb. At this stage, with his finger and thumb starting to ache as he twisted the knob, the pilot would be thinking something on the lines of: "What in hell is happening, I've never had to set 1054 on an altimeter. This QFF can't be right..."

So could he have mis-READ a correctly-reading altimeter? Seems unlikely. On that type of altimeter, the difference between 500 ft and 1500 ft is hard to ignore. Pilots are hyper-sensitive of altitude when in cloud.

DELIBERATE LOW FLYING?

Could they have been deliberately flying low: visually, but in and out of patchy low stratus, and unaware of the steadily rising ground beneath them? Why would they be? There was a Canadian Army tank depot in the woods near the crash site. The navigator was Canadian, so may have had friends there. Could he have persuaded W/Cdr Cox, the officer commanding 34 WSU, to beat-up the Army unit?

I doubt it.

AIRFRAME ICING OR LOSS OF POWER

Am waiting for the Royal Mail to deliver a package of Met info (from the Met Office Archive at Exeter) - when they find it in their strike backlog. Should be able to estimate the freezing level and, in the (unlikely) event that it's low enough, look at the possible presence of extensive strato-cumulus at 1000 - 3000 ft.

Loss of engine power would presumably have been covered by the AIB, so is unlikely. Having said that, I presume the A.W. Cheetah engine would have been susceptible to carb icing, evidence of which would have melted long before any investigation was possible.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
00:23:05 Monday, October 15, 2007
Post:
UPDATE: METeorology

Met docs for the day, delayed by the postal strike, have now come to hand, kind courtesy of the Met Office Archive at Exeter.

A weak warm front was transiting the area at the time of the accident (1000z). RAF Croydon (about 5 miles north of the site) shows the stratus cloud base dropping to seven-tenths at 400 ft in slight intermittent drizzle, with strato-cumulus and alto-stratus cloud above it. This is typical of the passage of a warm front. Don't have any data for nearby Kenley (hoping to get Biggin Hill later) but it can be assumed that the stratus cloud over the Downs would have been lower than at Croydon. The surface temperature at 600ft amsl on the Downs would have been about 55F (13C).

The QFF (equivalent sea-level pressure) from Northolt to Croydon is close to what I have been working on (see post 14, above).

The wind at 2000 ft was about 260/20 (westerly at about 20 kts). Forecast flying conditions are not provided, but my guess is for light-to-moderate turbulence over the Downs.

The freezing level looks to be about 7000 ft, so airframe icing can be ruled out. The same cannot be said for carburettor icing, however, which causes loss of engine power but is normally quickly eliminated by the crew selecting carb heat.

To sum up, a typical day of the rather dismal weather crews are well accustomed to in N.W. Europe. Unexceptional.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Coop
Time Stamp:
15:27:42 Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Post:
Chris:

Prior to the accident F.O. W.D.(David)D.Cooper was a member of an RCAF aircrew within an RAF squadron assigned to NO.34 WSU.

Further to the accident and quoting from a letter dated 30 November 1944 from W/Cdr C.F.H. Webb to our father, "David was at the time acting as Navigator for the late commanding officer of this unit. The commanding Officer of course has not a crew of his own but flies with members of other crews and thereby gets to know them and their capabilities".

Floyd


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
16:03:45 Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Post:
Thanks, Floyd. That makes sense. The C.O. probably spent more time flying his desk, but he would have to keep current on flying. If he was up to his eyes in admin, he might have had to keep his flying to the bare minimum required to keep 'in-check'. The trouble is: pilot-administrators tend to be rusty and (sometimes) do not realise this. Also, the junior members of the crew may be slightly in awe and may hesitate to question his actions. Must emphasise that I'm speaking generally: cases like that are happily the exception rather than the rule, and no criticism of Wg/Cdr Cox is implied or intended.

Useful to know that David WAS the duty navigator. Still not sure about Flt/Sgt Kay: wonder if David was training him. Do you know if David was a training navigator?


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Coop
Time Stamp:
18:29:41 Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Post:
Chris:

Nothing in David's service record that he was a training navigator.

Floyd


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
15:39:27 Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Post:
UPDATE: ANSON WING FAILURES IN 1943

As patient readers of this thread will be aware, the AIB accident report for NK607 is missing at the National Archive (Kew), along with most of the 1944 reports for all A/C types (see Post 9, above). The 1943 records (AVIA 5/22), however, include 9 Anson accidents. 2 are non-structural, and one report (W1617) appeared to be missing on my first visit.

Have now been to Kew again and located W1617, which is out of sequence in the folder. The accident was at St Vigeans, nr Arbroath, Scotland, on 14Aug1943. Anson N9671, based at Kinloss, had a crew of 6. The following extracts from the report give an idea of the gravity of the Anson problem that the AIB accepted - for the first time - in this report. And also the difficulties experienced by the investigators. (Comments in brackets are mine.)

"The A/C when flying normally between 3000 and 4000 ft was seen to make a diving turn to port and suddenly to shed parts of the starboard wing. The pieces when detaching themselves from the aircraft were described by eye-witnesses as resembling 'a cloud of brown feathers'. The turn developed into a spin during which two complete revolutions were made. The A/C then stopped spinning and struck the ground while diving in the inverted position." (One wonders that so apparently expert a witness had happened to be in the area and watching.)

"...sufficient evidence was obtained to confirm that both elevators, the fin and certain metal parts of the rudder were attached to the A/C at the moment of impact.

"Works on the ground suggested that, when the aircraft struck, the port and starboard structure of the mainplanes outboard of the engine nacelles were missing." "The airframe was entirely destroyed by impact and fire.

"A search of the surrounding country was made..." (But nearly all the pieces of wreckage had been stolen by members of the public. 3 local schools returned some of them) "...(but) they had been broken into fragments making identification practically impossible. The port and starb'd navigation lights were returned and this was the first concrete evidence that structural failure of both wings had occurred in flight. A very small portion of the tailplane leading-edge ply was recovered at a point half a mile east of the crash and subsequently portions of both ailerons, stripped of all fabric..." (Someone appeared to have removed them from where they fell and later thrown them in a ditch.)

"Cause of the Accident -

"Cannot be stated with certainty but from the available evidence it is concluded that the primary failure was disintegration of the skin on the starboard wing."

The tone of this report is very different from the previous one 2 months ealier, W1570, during which investigation a 4-suare-foot piece of plywood wing skin had been found a mile from the crash site. (This was the one in which the A/C had suffered a seized engine and the pilot had apparently been unable to control the resulting yaw.)

Of 9 Anson accidents investigated in the UK in 1943, therefore, 7 involve structural (wing) failures, of which 2 were caused, allegedly, by the pilots overstressing the A/C, and one involved a sudden and violent engine failure. The remaining 4 were all attributed to spontaneous wing failures.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Harry Jamieson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
16:33:20 Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Post:
Chris,

The seemingly expert witness could have been one of the Fleet Air Arm personnel from HMS Condor which must have been very close to the scene of the accident to N9671.

Harry.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
00:26:24 Thursday, October 18, 2007
Post:
Thanks, Harry. From personal experience one would need to be very focussed, while remaining emotionally detached, to do a good job of describing the precise sequence. Hardly a 'Condor' moment. (Sorry..)


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Coop
Time Stamp:
14:47:09 Friday, October 19, 2007
Post:
Chris:

There appears to be some misunderstanding re the cause of failure that was conveyed to our parents.

Again quoting from the letter dated 30 November 1944 from W/Cdr. Webb to our father "After a very full enquiry, carried out with the aid of the Accident Investigations Board, the conclusion reached was that the Anson Aircraft, struck an object on high ground while flying in cloud. This caused the aircraft to break up in the air, and all were killed".

We, the family, always believed this to be the case. However the contributions by others in this forum have certainly opened my eyes to other possibilities.

I have copies of the Form 765 (c) Accident Report and I will convey its' contents to you in another thread.


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Coop
Time Stamp:
15:52:40 Friday, October 19, 2007
Post:
Chris:

Further to my post 22. There was indeed a letter dated 6 October 1944 from Webb to our father in which he states "The crash was caused by a structural failure and is being investigated by the Air Ministry".

It appears that the family,including myself, accepted the "conclusion" by the A.I.B. that was subsequent to Webb's 6 October letter.

Floyd


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
16:49:05 Friday, October 19, 2007
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 19-Oct-07 AT 04:54 PM (GMT)[/font][p]Hi Floyd, the contents of W/Cdr Webb's letter are consistent with the handwritten Accident Card that Tom Thorne kindly photographed for us at the Hendon Museum (see Post 13, above).

The object allegedly struck in flight was a tree, causing 4 feet of wing to fall off. Since my last posting, the AAIB have come up trumps by e-mailing me the prcis-report of the Investigation, W2007. It raises almost as many questions as anwers. The prcis is dated 6/12/44, so I guess the Chief Inspector (Accidents) may have spoken in advance to Webb, who was Cox's replacement as O/C 34 WSU.

It must have been a sensitive issue between them, and there is no conclusion by the Investigators as to why the A/C was flying so low. The prcis (don't know why it's only "prcis" that ever seem to be available) is twice as long as those I've seen for the 1943 accidents (see Posts 9 & 17).

They looked in as much detail as they could into W/Cdr Cox's experience and recency, encountering some difficulty prior to 15/9/44. In 1942 he had flown only 25 hrs in 6 months. After Oct1942 there was no reord of any flying he may have done. They didn't find his log book, but he may have had it with him, as many pilots do. They managed to find details from 15/9/44, presumably from 34 WSU movement records. (The 34 WSU Operations Record Book records that he assumed command of 34 WSU on 9Aug1944.)

He flew on 15/9 (Spitfire, 30 mins); 17/9 (Anson, 25 mins); 19/9 (Anson, 30 mins); 25/9 (Spitfire, local, 50 mins, PLUS Spitfire "to Amiens, abandoned"); and 26/9 (Anson, "Base - Tolerton - Peterborough - Base", 1.50 mins). The Amiens flight "was abandoned because the pilot was taken ill. He reported to the M.O. and was told not to fly for 2 days. He did not subsequently report to the M.O. for further examination."

The A/C was "heard apparently circling over the neighbourhood of Merstham... It then broke cloud at a very low altitude over wooded country and was seen to be banked almost vertically to the left. It crashed almost immediately afterwards but, before it did, the tip of the port wing broke away."

"The weather... was bad. The sky was completely covered by cloud, the base of which was almost down to the tree tops. There was intermittent light drizzle. The wind was south-westerly at about 10 mph at ground level.

The pilot consulted the meteorological officer about 1%BD hrs before starting on the flight and was supplied with a report.. not inconsistent with the wx prevailing at the time and place of the accident. He was warned that pilots.. had reported cloud down to tree-top level and was told that the wx might deteriorate further. It is understood that there was no icing at low or medium altitudes."

"...The only part of the airframe.. not lying with the wreckage was the port wing tip, which had fallen about 120 yds from the.. (crash site). About 12 ins of the leading edge immediately forward of where the main spar had broken was missing and the front spar, which had fractured about 4 feet from its outer end, had evidently been broken by a blow from in front."

(There is no mention of any examination or location of the tree in this prcis.)

The investigators seem to have been working on the possibility that the pilot lost control of the aeroplane while flying in cloud owing to limited recent experience in instrument flying and/or an incapacitation. The blind-flying instruments are examined and no evidence of pre-crash malfunction found. (For example, marks in the casings of the gyro insruments showed them spinning normally at the point of impact.)

Instead of their conclusion being titled "Cause...", they have used the word "OPINION". Here is all of it:

"The accident was due to loss of control when flying in cloud and the structural failure must be attributed to the port wing striking a tree. Whether the pilot was in good health or whether he was in sufficiently good instrument flying practice to justify his starting on the flight in the weather conditions prevailing at the time cannot, on the evidence available, be determined."

I am trying to locate the full report. Also to find out if the Anson had dual controls, and wondering if Wg Cmdr Chapman, though a passenger, might have been available and able to assist the pilot with any problems he may have been having (assuming he'd been asked).


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
17:06:06 Friday, October 19, 2007
Post:
Floyd,

Re your Post 23, we have crossed. Yes, the early evidence WAS structural failure, explaining W/Cdr Webb's letter. They might have had mixed feelings about it in 34 WSU, though. On the one hand, they would not want blame attached to their crew; on the other, possible grounding of their Ansons might have been problematical.

An AIB report is normally the last word. I'd like to have seen that tree, though...


RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Coop
Time Stamp:
15:40:04 Monday, October 22, 2007
Post:
Chris:

My post 22 indicated I would convey the info contained in Form 765 that I now wish to do. Much of the info we already know but I will include nevertheless. Also I may not convey all the info in this post in which case I will convey the balance in a later post.

1. Unit: 34 W.S.U. Northolt Command: 2nd TAF Serial No. of Form: 34WSU/11/?

2. Date of Incident: 29th September 1944 (a) Name of Airfield or Landing: No. 9 AFV Depot, Dean Lane, Merston, Surrey.

3. Nature of and purpose for which Flight authorised:-

Nature (i) Non-Operational (iii) Purpose: Ferrying to France

(Note: Non-Operational was stroked out on the original typewritten entry with handwritten initials "F.B.". Signal from Air Ministry Kingsway to RCAF Ottawa dated 1 October 1944 stated "Flying Battle". A 2 May 1945 signal from Air Ministry Kingsway to RCAF Records Office Ottawa requests that Non-Operational be changed to Flying Battle. This in response to a 1 May 1945 signal from RCAF Records Office Ottawa.

In a registered letter to our mother from Ottawa dated 2 November 1946, the Chief of Air Staff encloses Operational Wings and Certificate in recognition of David's gallant services.)

To be continued with info on the air frame and engines and closing remarks.

Floyd



RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: Coop
Time Stamp:
18:47:54 Monday, October 22, 2007
Post:
Chris:

Form 765 continued:

4. Type of Airframe and Engine and extent of damage.

Airframe Type: Avro Anson Mark or Series: 1 R.A.F No. NK.607 Total hours run: 15.05

Port Engine Type: Cheeta Mark or Series: 1X R.A.F. No.(and maker's number for engines) 61891/455610 Total hours run: 17.40

Starboard Engine Type: Cheeta Mark or Series: 1X R.A.F. No.(and maker's number for engines) 61894/455613 Total hours run: 17.25

Extent of damage indicated as "W" for which there is no category listed but presumeably means "Writeoff".

12. Remarks by Unit Commander.

A. The accident took place during daylight in extremely bad weather conditions with cloud on the high ground.

B&C. A Court of Inquiry was held and there is no evidence to explain why structural failure occurred,it being assumed that the aircraft struck an object while flying low.

Signature: (typewritten) SD. G.F.H. Webb Commanding: 34 Wing SU Date: No. 6. 44.

13. Remarks by Station Commander: Nil

Signature: (none) Commanding: 34 Wing Date: 8.12.44

This concludes the content of Form 765.

In Royal Air Force Form 551 dated 23.12.44. Section 2 states "Killed in aircraft accident engaged on ferrying (Anson N.K.607). On duty as navigator". It also states that the Court of Inquiry was to take place on 16 October at Northolt.

On 14 August 1946 the Department of National Defence in response to a request from our mother, sent to her David's Sight Log Book. The whereabouts of the Log Book is unknown at this time. Copies of it are contained David's service record a copy of which I have. There are no dates contained therein (not permitted?) and consists in my opinion of navigational notes he made while in training prior to going on ops.

Floyd



RE: Anson NK607: Accident 29-Sep-1944 on the North Downs
Author: ChrisScott
Time Stamp:
23:55:26 Monday, October 22, 2007
Post:
Thanks Floyd,

Your 2 posts have given me a lot to think about, as I wait for a response from RAF Air Historical Branch (Bentley Priory). Am hoping they MIGHT have more info, including the full AIB report...

I want to clear up any possibility that we might have got the site location wrong. You, the family, were told: "Name of Airfield or Landing: No. 9 AFV Depot, Dean Lane, Merston, Surrey" (sic). The accident card (at RAF Museum, Hendon) also shows "Dean Lane, Merston". Have searched on line for "9 AFV" without success so far.

The AIB prcis report confirms that the site was "within the precincts of an Army Ordnance Depot" at Merstham, "3 miles south of Kenley" (in fact it is slightly nearer west than south). It does not specifically state that it was on high ground (i.e., on the Downs), only that it was "in wooded country", and not mentioning Dean Lane. And Merstham itself is over a mile away at the foot of the Downs. However, Dean Lane is less than a mile long so I think we can assume that there was only the one Army "depot" near it.

The investigation seems initially to have centred around the structural failure; then concluded that it was caused by impact with the tree, the latter being down to the pilot losing control of the A/C in cloud due to illness or lack of competence in instrument flying. Hmmm...

Can anyone - who may have come with us this far - shed any light on "9 AFV" in the context of Canadian Army and tanks, or point us in the right direction, please?