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Thread: Halifax Accident, Tangmere, 19 November 1943

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    Default Halifax Accident, Tangmere, 19 November 1943

    The RAF Tangmere ORB reports that a Halifax returning from a raid on Germany crashed into the servicing hangar at Tangmere at 21:35 on 19 November 1943 and killed all six crew. A Spitfire and six Typhoons in the hangar were also destroyed and the resulting fire caused ammunition to explode and a subsequent evacuation of the station by all off-duty personnel.

    Can anyone identify the aircraft, crew and circumstances, please?

    Thanks
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Hi Steve,

    19/20 November 1943
    No.10 Sqn.
    Halifax II HX181: ZA-K
    Op: Leverkusen

    Took off 1622 Melbourne. Crashed 2135 onto a hangar at Tangmere airfield, Sussex. All are buried in various cemeteries within the United Kingdom.

    1015613 F/Sgt (Pilot) Benjamin HOLDSWORTH RAFVR +
    578363 Sgt (Flt. Eng.)Raymond James Harry STEEL RAF +
    1390492 Sgt (Nav./B) Clive TELFER RAFVR +
    1397140 Sgt (Air Bomb.) Albert James OUDINOT RAFVR +
    1119224 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) Robert Vernon DOWNS RAFVR +
    AUS421975 F/Sgt (Air Gnr.) John HARPER RAAF +
    1338514 Sgt (Air Gnr.) Charles Edward SMITH RAFVR +

    See: BCL4/387

    Typhoon EK141 - OV-X - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
    Typhoon JP501 - SA-R - No.486 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
    Typhoon JP680 - OV-S - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
    Typhoon JP787 - OV-K - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
    Typhoon JP853 - SA-K - No.486 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943
    Typhoon JP970 - OV-L - No.197 Sqn. DBF in hangar Tangmere - 20-11-1943

    Note: These six Typhoons, plus three Spitfires and two Lysanders, were destroyed when a 10 Squadron Halifax II HX181, crashed into the servicing hangar while attempting to land at Tangmere. Despite valiant efforts by the station personnel, the crew perished.

    See:
    The Typhoon & Tempest Story.
    Thomas,Chris & Christopher Shores.
    London:Arms & Armour Press,1988.
    pp.200 & 218.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 12th May 2011 at 05:26.

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    Thanks Col, just was I was after.

    Regards
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Can anyone ID the Spitfires or Lysanders ? I had a quick look but couldn't find any likley candidates

    Thanks

    Paul

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    Hi Paul

    41 Squadron did not report any Spitfires lost in the fire, and 91 Squadron was the only other Spitfire squadron based at Tangmere at the time (the two squadrons forming the Spitfire XII Wing), so I would suggest 91 Squadron's ORB (which I do not have for this period), or "Spitfire; The History" (I'm am away from home at the moment, so can't check it), should give an indication of any poitential losses.

    However, if there was a station Hack, it is not recorded. The Station ORB does not identify any such related loss, nor does it mention the Lysanders; it only states that six Typhoons and a Spitfire were lost, without any detail as to whom they belonged.

    Regards
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Hi Steve/Paul,

    Like you, unable to positively identify the three Spitfires and two Lysanders. The only other note I have in my file on AUS421975 F/Sgt John HARPER RAAF, is mention of Spitfire XII MB801 EB-X, of No.41 Sqn. being involved in a Cat "E" flying accident on 20-11-1943. Various sources quote this as due to crash-landing, or simply, crashed. I have never seen a name connected with this incident.

    Can we eliminate this critter, Steve?

    Col.

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    Some thoughts re these elusive aircraft.

    If they were in the servicing hangar, perhaps they had already been struck off charge and were there for spares recovery. Secondly, perhaps they were not destroyed or subsequently written off but recovered as being superfically damaged. A third option might be that a decision to scrap the aircraft was taken later and the date on which they were struck off and the circumstances of their damage was not linked back to the original accident (have encountered a lot of these over the years).

    Old Duffer

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    Steve/Col/Colin

    Thanks for your thoughts - I couldnt find the Spitfires either!

    Paul

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    Thanks guys

    Col, in regard to MB801, I'm afraid I can't help, which is frustrating as I have 29 pages of 41 Sqn WWII casualties!

    I, too, have nothing more than the entry in "Spitfire; The History", indicating an accident on 20 November 1943. There is nothing in the Squadron, Station or Group ORBs, nor in the day's Intelligence Report, that mentions any accident. Moreover, the serial is not shown as flying operationally on this date.

    If the aircraft therefore crashed on a non-operational flight, it comes as no surprise that it is not recorded F541, associating it with a particular pilot. If it was serious enough (e.g. a pilot hurt), it would normally get a mention, but then a more serious accident that occurred three weeks later (where a pilot was seriously injured) is mentioned on the F541 that day, only because it came at the end of an operational flight, but does not rate a mention on the F540. Very helpful scribe on the Squadron at that time, obviously!

    May I ask your interest in this serial/accident? As far as I can establish, Harper RAAF has no relationship with 41 Sqn whatsoever, so there's no connection between him and this accident.

    Regards
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Steve,

    My primary interest is in AUS421975 F/Sgt John HARPER RAAF, who was killed aboard the 10 Sqn Halifax HX181, on 19-11-1943. As mentioned earlier, I had a note in his file, quoting four refs (including your site!), that mentioned the fate of Spitfire XII MB801 ie Crashed, Crash-landing and Flying accident - Cat "E" - 20-11-1943

    1. http://brew.clients.ch/body41.htm
    2. Spitfire:The History/Morgan & Shacklady p.409
    3. http://www.spitfires.ukf.net/p060.htm
    4. Aircraft for the Royal Air Force/Bowyer p.58

    As I could find no other candidates, I recorded MB801 as a possibility for one of the Spitfires destroyed in the hangar at Tangmere.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 16th May 2011 at 12:32.

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