View Full Version : HP Harrow K6991, October 6th 1938

11th October 2015, 14:55
Hello everyone

Can anyone give me the fate of this Harrow, which was struck by lightning on October 6th 1938. Several sources I've come across state it was abandoned after an engine subsequently failed and it crashed, but I've also seen reference to it making an emergency landing.

There are some photos on this page:


which purport to show the serial K6991 on the images of a fire damaged Harrow - maybe this was another incident?

Many thanks.


11th October 2015, 17:59
I have K6991 abandoned on this daye 5 crew ok full details tomorrow Paul

11th October 2015, 18:11
Thanks Paul - look forward to hearing more tomorrow.



12th October 2015, 08:39
OK on my pre war bale-outs file

October 6, 1938 Handley Page Harrow K6991 Mk.II. RAF 214 Sqn Struck by lightning on night exercise, engine cut and control lost, being abandoned and crashed, Kirk Smeaton, near Pontefract, Yorkshire


P/O Frank Leslie Herbert Eddison #39377 (Australian) KIA Wellington Mk1 C R1226 214 Sqn 8th/9th May 1941
P/O Colin Leslie Gilbert #39458 (Australian) KIA Wellington Mark I L4269 214 Sqn 7 May 1942
LAC Dominic Bruce #522098 -- Later Flight Lieutenant OBE MC AFM KSG MA RAF escape from Colditz. Won AFM for his actions this night (See below)
Aircraftman M. G. Brown -- More info required on this airman
Aircraftman E. Robertson -- More info required on this airman

The Air Force Medal has been presented to Cpl. D. Bruce, R.A.F., at present serving at West Freugh near Stranraer. The medal has been awarded for meritorious conduct. A heavy bomber in which Cpl. Bruce was the wireless operator was struck by lightning on night flight and one engine and the wireless were put out of commission. The captain gave orders to don parachutes and stand by the escape hatches, but without a though for his own safety Cpl. Bruce began working on the set and re-established communication with the station. Just then the other engine cut out completely and Cpl. Bruce fixed his parachute and jumped out from a height of less than 2,000ft. Cpl. Bruce, who belongs to Hebburn-on-Tyne, is a member of Air Observer Corps.

Note : On same day another Harrow of 215 Sqn was also abandoned and crashed at Udimore, Rye, Sussex

I can't understand why number painted on door of Harrow in 609 squadron pictures at Middle Wallop, but maybe it was a spares recovery piece, or was swapped accidently during routine maintenance. Can anyone ID the Harrow incident at Middle Wallop or it happened prior to Oct 1938

12th October 2015, 09:25

S/L Colin Gilbert was lost on 6/7 May 1942 in No.460 Sqn RAAF, Wellington IV Z1254.


12th October 2015, 09:58
Thank you Paul and Col.

Dominic Bruce went on to become famous due to his repeated attempts to escape from various PoW camps, including Colditz, after being shot down in Wellington R1758 on June 9th 1941. In addition to the A.F.M., he was awarded the M.C. in 1946, and later was awarded the O.B.E. in 1989, as well as the Order of St. Gregory by the Pope - an interesting collection of awards!

There's an entry on Wikipedia (usual caveats apply!) which says he was involved in an aircraft accident in 1937:

"In 1937 he was involved in an aeroplane crash which resulted from a badly judged descent which removed the roof of a train travelling on railway lines adjacent to the Handley Page works airfield."

I assume this is Radlett? I can't find anything in contemporary newspapers.



12th October 2015, 10:30
Col thanks for correction on Gilbert

12th October 2015, 10:43

The incident involving Dominic Bruce, occurred on Thursday, 25th March, 1937.

No.214 Squadron.
Harrow I K6940

Sgt A E Morton - Safe.

T/o Feltwell carrying pilots to Radlett where they were to collect Harrow aircraft that had been assigned to 214 Squadron. On approach to the airfield Sgt Morton's Harrow clipped a train and crash-landed in a field near Napsbury, W. of London Colney. Recovered to Radlett, K6940 was later broken down to spares.

See: BCL1(rev.ed.)/22

For more on this incident, see:

AEROPLANE BIOGRAPHY No.4 - Handley Page Harrow K6940.
by Peter W. Moss.
Air Pictorial. Vol.37. No.8. August,1975. p.320

The article includes a photograph of the crashed Harrow, and mentions that it hit the 10.25 a.m. L.M.S. express train from St. Pancras to Manchester which was travelling at 60 m.p.h. and most of the kitchen car's roof had been ripped off. The Harrow was carrying six passengers at the time, the pilot and an officer on board suffered severe cuts to the head, while the remainder escaped with bruises and shock. The dining saloon staff were uninjured.


12th October 2015, 17:24
Thanks for that Col, that's very helpful indeed. Knowing it crashed at Napsbury, a seach of the Newspaper Archive brought up a photo of the very sorry-looking Harrow in the Yorkshire Post of March 27th 1937.