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Thread: 115 Bomber Sqn Incident "May 1939" Harrow/Wellington

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    Default 115 Bomber Sqn Incident "May 1939" Harrow/Wellington

    Trying to tie down an exact date for the following incident - It happened to a 115 Bomber Sqn aircraft around May 1939 - It said it was a Harrow aircraft but it could be a Wellington as 115 Sqn started to take on Wellingtons in April 1939 - Though it does explicity mention the Harrow twice

    "AIRMAN'S NARROW ESCAPE.
    Three Minutes Upside Down Under Machine
    Aircraftman James Summers (24), Jumping; from a "Harrow" bomber during a night flight over Suffolk, caught the strap of his right boot on a bomb rack, and hung upside down for three minutes before he was able to free himself and float to earth.
    With two other aircraftmen and two officers he was flying from Marham Norfolk, at 1 a.m. The machine's starboard engine petered out and it began to lose height. Flying-Officer L Vincent ordered his crew to jump at 1,500ft. Aircraftmen Jakeman and Smith dropped from the after turret. Aircraftman Summers, in the turret amidships, climbed out too. He had never before made a parachute jump.
    As he dived he caught hls foot in the bomb-rack fitted on the trap door, which shut it on his leg. He struggled vainly to get free. Then he managed to swing himself upward. With one hand he gripped the strap and undid ' the buckle and his foot slid from the boot.
    As Flying-Officer Vincent and Pilot Officer O.R. Donaldson coaxed the crippled machine back to Marham he dropped through space and landed safely In a field. He had to walk five miles to Sudbury with only one boot.
    An Air Ministry official said: "This is the first time an R.A.F. parachutist has got caught up in a monoplane. It has happened before with a biplane, but it was thought to be impossible with a machine of the Harrow type"

    I would like a firm date for this incident and an Aircraft Serial if possible

    Many Thanks

    Paul

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    Hello,

    On 1 March (1939), Harrow K6969 developed engine problems over the North Sea during one such navigation exercise and, with little prospect of curing the problem, the captain ordered the crew to bale out. Three of them safely took to their parachutes, but then the two pilots decided that it was worth trying to make it back to base, and duly arrived back at Marham.

    See:
    RAF Marham:The Operational History of Britain's Front-Line Base from 1916 to the Present Day.
    Delve,Ken.
    Sparkford:P.S.L.,1995.
    p.20

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 9th August 2012 at 09:45.

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    Col thanks - that was great - I had worried that because it was not a crash/forced landing the aircraft coudl not be found but you did !

    Paul

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    Full crew are
    Flying-Officer Leonard Vincent - landed aircraft ok
    Pilot Officer Oliver Russell Donaldson - landed aircraft ok
    AC1 James Gould Summers #521969 baled out - killed 11/08/1941 as Air Gunner with 202 Sqn. Catalina I Serial W8425
    AC1 Alan John Jakeman #526604 baled out later DFM
    AC1 Graham King Smith #550390 baled out later DFM and bar

    Paul

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    Paul,

    36083 Leonard VINCENT (later MiD)
    39414 Oliver Russell DONALDSON (later CBE,DSO,DFC & Bar,thrice MiD)

    Hugh Halliday*, and a few others, quote Donaldson's (who was CAN/RAF), service number as 37414, which l believe is incorrect. Donaldson's service number seems to have been corrupted at sometime by the LG. and is quoted variously as, 37414, and 39414. But take a look at this:

    The undermentioned are granted short service commissions as Acting Pilot Officers on probation with effect from and with seniority of the dates stated:-

    28th Jan. 1937.

    39407 - Leslie Vero Everest ATKINSON
    39408 - John Willam BAIRD
    39409 - John Reginald BENDELL
    39410 - Gordon Gamble BOWKER - Terminated LG: 1937 p.5561
    39411 - David Henry BRYAN-GOWER - + 13-7-1939.
    39412 - James Baird COWARD
    39413 - Michael Dorrington DAY
    39414 - Oliver Russell DONALDSON
    39415 - Philip Ellard DUNDEE
    39416 - Ian Uilleam McRea GALLAWAY

    and so on...

    http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34369/pages/895

    * Take a look at Hugh's Canadian Awards site for more on Donaldson.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 30th August 2013 at 18:56.

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    Found these comments quite by accident. Very interesting and one incident I was unaware of. I am Russell Donaldson's eldest son. Don't have any record of his service prior to his log book's first entry January 1941. His original log book was lost - I believe whilst he was in transit to Canada to attend a Navigation Course.
    Had no idea he ever had a Service Number but although he was indeed a Canadian, he was pure Royal Air Force! Having come to UK to learn to fly long before the RCAF got really going. Please let me know if there is anything else you know about him?
    Regards Ross Donaldson


    Quote Originally Posted by COL BRUGGY View Post
    Paul,

    36083 Leonard VINCENT (later MiD)
    39414 Oliver Russell DONALDSON (later CBE,DSO,DFC & Bar,thrice MiD)

    Hugh Halliday*, and a few others, quote Donaldson's (who was CAN/RAF), service number as 37414, which l believe is incorrect. Donaldson's service number seems to have been corrupted at sometime by the LG. and is quoted variously as, 37414, and 39414. But take a look at this:

    The undermentioned are granted short service commissions as Acting Pilot Officers on probation with effect from and with seniority of the dates stated:-

    28th Jan. 1937.

    39407 - Leslie Vero Everest ATKINSON
    39408 - John Willam BAIRD
    39409 - John Reginald BENDELL
    39410 - Gordon Gamble BOWKER - Terminated LG: 1937 p.5561
    39411 - David Henry BRYAN-GOWER - + 13-7-1939.
    39412 - James Baird COWARD
    39413 - Michael Dorrington DAY
    39414 - Oliver Russell DONALDSON
    39415 - Philip Ellard DUNDEE
    39416 - Ian Uilleam McRea GALLAWAY

    and so on...

    http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34369/pages/895

    * Take a look at Hugh's Canadian Awards site for more on Donaldson.

    Col.

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    Ross

    Thanks for the note. All I have on this incident is already posted here.

    I am looking at pre-war RAF and commonwealth parachute incidents to End of April 1940 and at one point this was an 'unknown' incident of mine. But thanks to this forum my questions were anwsered



    Paul

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    Ross,

    If you do not have it already, you can obtain your father's service record via this link (https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-pers...sonnel-records). Be warned though, it takes some time (20+ weeks) to get a response. The record includes details of the units with which he served, and from there you can access the Operations Record Books (ORB) of the flying units. It's all very basic but it should add to your sum of knowledge.

    Brian

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    I am now 100% sure quoted date of March 1st is wrong.

    An article in Saturday 18 March 1939 , Edinburgh Evening News has some more detail on Jakeman's jump

    Saturday 18 March 1939 , Edinburgh Evening News , Midlothian, Scotland

    Hung by Foot From Falling ’Plane
    The terrible ordeal of a young aircraftman, who was suspended head downwards at a
    height of 2000 feet when his foot
    caught in a bomb rack as he was making a parachute jump, was revealed in a
    letter sent to his mother in
    Newcastle yesterday. The youth, who had a remarkable escape from death,
    was Aircraftman James G. Summers, stationed at Marham, Norfolk. The bomber,
    he explained, was engaged in manoeuvres when it developed engine trouble, and the pilot
    ordered the crew to take to their parachutes.
    Summers was climbing through a trapdoor when his foot caught, and he was left
    suspended in mid-air with the aeroplane losing height all the time.
    Eventually he wrenched his foot from his flying boot, freed himself,
    and with the aid of his parachute floated gently to earth. There he was faced with ...
    with a five mile walk, wearing only one boot, to the police station at Sudbury,
    where preparations for a search party to hunt for him were being made.

    RAF Marham: The Operational History of Britain's Front-Line Base from 1916 to the Present Day by Delve quotes March 1st, but I have also seen March 15th quoted

    The ORB says March 16th

    Marham No 115 Sqn

    16.3.39 In night operations over the North Sea the starboard engines of Harrow K6969 cut out at 12,000 feet. The captain acting Flight-Lieutenant L. Vincent, who was at the controls, headed for land but could not maintain height owing to the heavy load. At 1,500 feet over Sudbury, Suffolk the wireless operator an the two air gunners were ordered to abandon the aircraft, their names being:-
    526604 AC1 Jakeman, A J
    550390 AC1 Smith G K
    521969 AC1 Summers J G

    On abandoning the aircraft by the light series bomb carrier hatch amidships, AC1 Jakeman had the unpleasant experience of having his flying boot catch in the bomb rack. With great difficulty he managed to reach up and release his foot from the boot. All three airman made successful descents, the captain and his second pilot, Pilot Officer O R Donaldson, found that the aircraft was lightened sufficiently to effect a landing at Marham

    The failure of the starboard engine was due to a cylinder head blowing off


    Based on the available info I assume this incident happened night of 15th March/16th March. Jakeman immediately wrote to his mother on 16th (to tell her he was ok), she got letter on 17th and the press reported it on 18th (says she received letter "yesterday")

    I am updating my files to record date 15th March 1939 with this note

    Note: Vincent was made acting Flight-Lieutenant on 2nd March 1939
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 10th July 2015 at 08:46.

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