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Thread: Crash of Wellington III -DF626 - 420 Sqn RCAF - 29 Jan 43

  1. #1
    aeroplanegripper Guest

    Default Crash of Wellington III -DF626 - 420 Sqn RCAF - 29 Jan 43

    Greetings,
    I am currently researching the loss of Wellington III - Code PT-Y Serial DF626 of 420 Sqn RCAF near Woodbury Common in Devon on the night of 29 January 1943.The crash sadly took the lives of the following crew:

    Pilot - Sgt Delmer Ray Sanderson
    Navigator - FS Charles Murray Downton
    Observer - FS Harold Hogarth Sealy
    Air Gunner - FS John Drake Bittner

    Two crew survived, Sgt P Beauchamp and Sgt Hank Ernst, I have recentley seen the BEM (Military) awarded to Marine Sgt Walter West, awarded for his efforts in rescuing these crewman from the wreckage.

    I have included a link to Hank Ernst return to the site in 2005 accompanied by a film crew from Canada.
    http://www.clintondevon.com/news/pdf/CDESummer05.pdf (Page 5.)

    I believe that the aircraft was on its return from Lorient when it crashed, and released its bomb load just before. Was there a reason why it didnt complete its mission over France? Was there a technical problem?
    Would anyone have any insight to the loss or supporting documentation I could look for? I have been directed, by Peter Clare, to the RAF Museum for the F1180.

    Any insight to the mission and the aircraft would be appreciated.
    Last edited by aeroplanegripper; 25th July 2008 at 13:24.

  2. #2
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    Hi
    Bomber Command War Diaries by Middlebrook and Everitt record this raid as being conducted in poor visibility. Some a/c bombed but as the target was in a French city it is quite possible that some crews did not bomb and brought their bomb loads back. If this Wellington had been hit and was already in trouble before it crashed then jettisoning the bombload would have been a normal procedure for extra safety. Bomber Command Losses Vol 4-W R Chorley states that the jettison was done shortly before impact, which reinforces the idea that the crew were aware that they were coming down and sought to minimise the danger. Sadly it didn't work out for 4 of the 6 men on board all of whom were from the RCAF.
    Regards
    Dick

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    My notes indicate the aircraft crashed on the outbound leg, from information provided to me by Tony Wilson in Australia. Rereading his notes raises a question however:

    "T/o 1632 Middleton St. George. Crashed 2310 nr Exeter, outbound. Shortly before the impact, the bomb load was jettisoned."

    Would we expect a Wellington to take 6 hours to get from Middelton St. George to Exeter? More likely returning without having bombed the target, I would think.

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    Apart from the word "outbound" what Bill has posted is almost exactly what is in Chorley incl the times. Like Bill I would doubt that it would take 6 hrs from Middleton St George to Exeter.
    Regards
    Dick

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    A slight word of caution here. There was, it seems, an exceptionally deep depression S of Iceland on this date. By 30 Jan the central pressure was 955 mb/hpa (depending upon which school you went to!). See http://theweatheroutlook.com/twodata/dathist charts.aspx and input the appropriate dates. This is practically down into the hurricane range! The result of this would have been VERY strong Sw'ly winds at almost all flying heights over UK. It is therefore conceivable that MSG>Exeter might have taken that long - but unlikely. I have spent some time in a Beverley, heading N, at 2000ft above the Rhone Valley practically stationary (ground speed) in a good-ish northerly Mistral!!!!!!!!!
    Need to compare this trip with other Station/Sqn ORBs, etc.
    They might have got a fair way there (halfway across the English Channel), realised that they'd used a lot of "gravy", and if they'd gone to the target then they wouldn't have had enough 'gravy' to get home!
    Just needs few quiet checks here and there!
    HTH
    Peter Davies

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    Default Df-626

    I believe this aircraft crashed on return as the other crews landing times at Middleton are between 22:44 and 23:30.
    richard

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    Richard - thanks, that is useful information.

    Resmoroh - your Beverly story reminds me of my father talking about "backing up" in an Auster Mk. VI, at 200 feet over the main runway at CJATC in strong winds. Apparently delighted all the Brown Jobs on base but annoyed the Blue Jobs in the tower.

  8. #8
    aeroplanegripper Guest

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    Bill, Richard, Peter and Dick.
    Many thanks for all your insight into this. Your replies were most helpful.

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