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Thread: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Is it known exactly where the accident occurred? I often walk on Cleeve Hill but have seen no sign of a crash location. . .

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Richard,

    #4 refers to the accident being on the edge of a quarry, the track of the aircraft being from the north. No quarry is marked on Streetmap images, but there are a number of references on the Internet to a Quarry Car Park (ie https://www.cleevecommon.org.uk/noti...k-open-8am-8pm). If you search for Cleeve Hill on Streetmap (https://www.streetmap.co.uk/) a car park is identified just east of Cleeve Hill village and can be reached along a track running south from the B4632. I'm 99% sure this is in the old quarry (hence its name). The car park is about 900 ft asl, which ties in closely with the 1000 ft quoted in #4.

    I doubt you'll get much closer than that.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 30th September 2020 at 10:56. Reason: Added directions to Quarry Car Park

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Richard, That is one of the aspects I am trying to establish. The helpful Cleeve Hill Trust has located two locals (as youngsters) who though they did not witness the impact visited the crash site the next day (or soon after). Both suggest that the site was between the Rising Sun Hotel and the Cleeve Hill Golf Club. One says in the vicinity of gorse bushes between the club and hotel. The other says "the old quarry area". So combining the information Google Earth shows a distinctive circular quarry about 200 metres SE of the B4632 road. The Quarry is about halfway between the club and hotel mentioned. At approximately 200 metres NE and 200 metres SE of the quarry there are still large clumps of what looks to be gorse or scrub. So the guestimate is the 400 metre line running NE/SW gorse bush to gorse bush with the quarry as the approximate midpoint of probability. I have not ever visited the area but as far as I can tell there is no commemorative plaque or marker of any kind. One of the two locals recalled that wreckage was spread over a wide area which makes sense if the aircraft impacted in a flat attitude at I guess about 200 knots or thereabouts. I expect that there would still be small items from the wreck in the area.
    Regards
    cris

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Brian,
    As I said in #9 I am unable to reconcile the statements in #4 that the aircraft approached the hill from the north and was flying North North East and heading for Pershore. I presume Pershore was a way point on the track to Breighton. And the NNE heading is about right. The altitude of the crash site I have sketched at #13 is about 800 feet. The altitude of Cleeve Hill summit is 1083 (AMSL I presume).
    Regards
    cris

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Quote Originally Posted by cozzy711 View Post
    Daz

    Newspapers.com has an H T Alsop, from Dundas, ON graduating from No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis, ON as a 'wireless air gunner' on 20th August 1943 but I cannot find out anymore about him.

    Chris
    Chris,
    Yes thats correct but I have struggled to find any further detail in the man.

    Regards
    Daz

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    All,
    the accident investigation report doesn't give any real indication as to the aircraft suffering from any battle damage, nor an explanation of why the aircraft was diverted to Pershore. Indeed it suggests that the aircraft literally flew into the hill in a straight and level attitude or possibly a slight descending angle. However the Station ORB states the following "The Gardening Operations duly took place but was marred by aircraft "M" (F/Lt Howes) crashing near Cheltenham on return - the entire crew being killed. All remaining aircraft, however, dropped their vegs in position as ordered on H2S fixes. Defences were active in La Rochelle, La Palice and Ile de Rey areas with heavy flak and light flak not very accurate. One aircraft believed to have been "M" was seen coned by twelve searchlights over La Palice with considerable light flak being hosepiped up the beams". Perhaps they had developed problems as a result of this flak and had realised that they wouldn't be able to reach Breighton and requested an alternative landing site, perhaps the closest site was Pershore but they had already passed it and had to turn back to land, hence the northernly approach direction. The latter is all supposition but may go some way to explain why they were not destined for Breighton. Neither the accident report or the subsequent investigation mention how much fuel was onboard at the time, perhaps fuel tanks had been punctured and they were too short on fuel to make it all the way home?

    The only other avenue that I can suggest to be explored are local Police records as one of the witnesses at the investigation was a local PC, probably as he was one of the first on the scene? From the comments in the reports and the fact that various paper logs were available it would appear that the aircraft did not catch fire and that all the casualties came from the impact of the crash.

    Regards
    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 30th September 2020 at 16:41. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Thanks Daz, i am happy to leave the the "approach from the North" as anomolous. Aircraft heading was deemed to be NNE. An interesting detail is that U 667 was sunk by mine in vicinity of the Cinnamon field on 26 Aug 44 whilst transiting to La Pacille/ La Rochelle. It it is too long a bow to draw a conclusive relationship between 78's operation of 25/26 Aug and the loss of the boat ( with all 45 of its company) but SIGINT was good enough by that time for RAF/RN to be aware of the submarine's movements.
    Regards
    cris
    Last edited by afterlift; 30th September 2020 at 23:09. Reason: To provide more accurate positional information re U 667

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Cris, my #12 was in error in respect of the lack of reference to quarries; having brought up the map for Cleeve Hill as I indicated I should have zoomed down one level. That identifies quite a lot of quarries on the hill, including the one you have identified, and another just to the southwest. If you go down to Street View level on Google Earth Pro you can actually follow the western track from the Quarry Car Park to 'your' quarry.

    Even better if you use the Historical Imagery icon there is an aerial image of the area for 1945. Both quarries are clearly visible, with gorse about 130 yards bearing 240 deg from the southwest quarry, and some about 350 yards bearing 030 deg from your quarry. Other than these two areas of gorse there was very little vegetation on the hill.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 2nd October 2020 at 22:23. Reason: Omitted 'little' before vegetation

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    As all the quarries in this area slope down to the north-west, it is difficult to see how the aircraft could have been approaching from any other direction. I will have to explore the area at an early opportunity, though usually all I find in the gorse patches on Cleeve Hill is lost golf balls. . .

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    Default Re: 78 SQN RAF Loss of Halifax III MZ311 on Cleeve Hill Gloucecstershire 26 AUG 44

    Brian and Richard, Thanks to both. Yes. It is a problem that there are quarries all over the hill. And the gorse/shrubs are unlikely to be how they were. I have put a lot of weight to the statements by the two witnesses ie between "club and pub" and "amongst the gorse". I tried to find a quarry that fitted with those observations while allowing for aircraft decel at a flat attitude on impact. I paid attention to the contours which " hook" slightly westward as you travel NE across the plateau. This would provide rising ground to the aircraft.. And more pronounced to his starboard. My datum is a best guess. I agree that the (to) NNE approach flat and onto rising ground makes most sense. And one of my problems is that i am doing it from maps and google rather than reality.
    Regards
    crisg
    Last edited by afterlift; 2nd October 2020 at 22:10. Reason: correct provided compass direction

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