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  1. #11
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    Default Oxford 1 LX 745 Crash 12th March 1944

    The Wireless operator on this flight was my uncle Joseph George Hall. I have quite a bit of information about the accident including the findings of the official investigation and some vector diagrams of the flight path produced by Mr Barry Blunt. If anyone is interested please email me at mrstevenhall@googlemail.com

    Regards

    Steve Hall

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    Hello Met team,

    Some excerpts from the court of inquiry record on this one that might interest you:

    At 22:22 hours the a/c took off with a westerly 15mph but it had been 35-40 at 21:45.

    By 23:59 the winds were up to 45-50mph.

    At the estimated time of the accident, the cloud base was at least 1500 ft. "GRANITE" fixed, surrounding hills in cloud. Very dark night.

    Map reference for crash location is OS Sheet 45 462/949, height 1700 ft.

    From the met men at the time:

    "The weather at this time (22:22) was considered suitable by Officer i/c N.F. He was advised by Met. that visibility was good, having done a weather test himself at 19:15 hrs. and also an instructor who landed at 21:50 reported that conditions were favourable. The Met. forecast was satisfactory but the westerly wind speed increased from 35 m.p.h. at 21:45 to 55 m.p.h. at 00:45 hours. Witness 2. who was flying on the same cross-country as F/O Wood and at the same time (take off 22:15, landed 23:30) states that large banks of cumulus cloud with base 1600 ft. were not on the Wrexham-Litchfield leg and on the Litchfield-Base leg these banks got more dense and the westerly wind speed increased very much. The visibility below cloud base was good and beacons on route clearly visible."

    Later, the report states "Night flying was cancelled at 00:40 hours as the weather was deteriorating."

    In the conclusions, the high winds were partially blamed for blowing them off course. When they tried to radio in for QDM, the base was busy answering another aircraft's similar request. They concluded the pilot, figuring he was on track for the field, must have dropped down to get below the cloud for a look-see because the Pundits (beacons) were working and would have been visible otherwise.

    They also concluded that "if or when weather deteriorates at night pilots should be instructed to call BASE on their W/T more frequently.

    The a/c hit a three-foot high stone wall on Shining Tor, started to break up and flew into pieces, killing the two pilots instantly. They somehow concluded that the w/op died a few minutes after the crash.

    The evidence showed the a/c was some 15 degrees south of his track on the Calveley-Wrexham leg and headed north toward Ellesmere. On getting a bearing from base (227 degrees), he corrected for wind DIRECTION and steered several degrees to the north but the increasing wind speed took him NE of Litchfield. On his second turn toward Litchfield, he steered approx 324 degrees but again the wind pushed him further off course.

    Forgot to add, the Met Men were F/O J.W. Taylor 28 MU, Buxton, and F/Lt. D. Crighton, 23 MU, Buxton
    Last edited by dfuller52; 13th October 2009 at 09:14. Reason: added info
    David

  3. #13
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    David,
    Something not quite right with the last sentence of yr last post.
    Somebody with the right books can check, but I thought 23 MU was at Aldergrove. 28 MU was at Harpur Hill, Buxton, and was - as far as I am aware - a huge Bomb Store, and as such would be highly unlikely to have any trained Met Officers on site. There might well have been an Officer at Harpur Hill who's responsibility it was to make sure that Gale, Thunder, etc, Warnings (received from a distant Met Office) were properly distributed within the site, and the necessary actions taken to safeguard life and property.
    Further, neither Crighton nor Taylor are on my list of Commissioned Met Met (and Women) as being Commissioned into the Met Branch. Crighton was Cmd into Admin & Spec Duties, and Taylor Cmd into the GD Branch. No indication on the LG that they ever transferred to the Met Branch (but the LG was playing up this morning!!).
    All very strange! It don't add up!
    Rgds
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    I will double check the list of witnesses but I am quite sure that's what it had for MU personnel. The 23 could be a typo. There is an extensive list of witnesses, including base staff, other air crew and members of the Pioneer Battalion, who I assume, did the work of clearing up the crash site.

    If I am right in surmising that the changing wind speed caused the pilot to veer of course, why wouldn't the pilot instructor have figured out something was wrong? They were already alerted to the fact that they were off course when they got the first heading. Perhaps they felt they were still within a safe corridor away from the hills. It is also sad to hear that, having had the good sense to phone home for help, they got a busy signal.
    David

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    There was a Mountain Rescue Unit (later known as a Team) at Harpur Hill, administered by No 28 MU. Checking in my copy of Frank Card's RAF mountain rescue history, Whensoever, there is mention of Flt Lt David Crichton (note spelling). He was Medical Officer for the MU and eventually found himself running an ad hoc MRU because of the numerous crashes in the area. He may also have become an unofficial met officer! He was awarded an MBE in 1946 for his services to MR, the Harpur Hill team having become official in the meantime.

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    Hi guys,

    Dave, you are correct, the spelling is Crichton.

    The other witness names, for the record, follow as typed in the report:

    F/O G.A.D. Gordon, 11(P)AFU
    F/L A.E. Marshall, Calveley
    F/Lt. F. Kitson, "
    P/O R. Dixon, "
    Sgt. G.S. Gibb, "
    F/L P.B. Percival
    Chief Observer W.N. Roughley, R.O.C. Macclesfield
    Observer J.K. Robinson, R.O.C. Buxton
    P/O G.G Parnell, 11(P)AFU
    Sgt. W. Parkinson, "
    Sgt. E.H. Snow, "
    F/L W. Barker, Calveley
    Cptn. W.F. Machin, Pioneer Corps
    F/O J.W. Taylor, 28 MU Buxton
    Cptn. L.W. McCabe, Pioneer Corps, Buxton
    Sgt. A.A. Barber, RAF Calveley
    P/O G. Darking, "
    F/L D. Crichton, 23 MU Buxton
    F/L K. Bell, RAF Calveley

    The conclusions also mentioned that the pilot didn't use Darky.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 15th October 2009 at 20:01.
    David

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    David,

    There's something else about your weather summary that doesn't add up either - the winds. I have to abide by the wind speeds given, but the wind direction at the level at which the aircraft was probably flying have to be 45 degrees out. The charts show the flow was from the northwest, no way could it have been from the west. The surface wind could well have been westerly, but not the wind above ground.

    Brian

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    Hi Brian,

    I will scan the original and let you have a look at it. I typed it out almost as is but not quite, so I will check it later tonight.
    David

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    Thank you David - I've also Steve Hall for a copy of the vector diagrams to which he refers. I thought I had a copy of the weather maps here, but I must have been working from the historical charts with my 26 Jan 2009 post (windwise it looked quite straightforward), so I'll get the charts from Exeter.

    Brian

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    Gentlemen,

    Having had a quick look at the documents Steven and David had (thanks both of you) I see the exercise was not a 'night cross-country exercise' as described in the opening post, but rather a 'short W/T cross-country'. Could someone describe how a 'W/T exercise' differs from a navigation exercise?

    Brian

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