View Full Version : 1934 "night bomber" crash

andy wis
31st May 2010, 12:54
Hi, All:
On the 15th September, 1934 an aircraft crashed near Normandy, Surrey. Apparently, all the crew managed to escape. Does anyone know the identity of the aircraft??


Andy Wis

1st June 2010, 00:09
Andy, According to the London Times dated 14 Sep 34, an accident occurred on 12 Sep when the crew of an twin-engined Virginia bomber aircraft from 58 Sqn, Worthy Down, baled out due to an engine seizure over the Hog's Back, Surrey. The Hog's Back is a hilly, wooded area between Guildford and Aldershot. Regards, Terry

Errol Martyn
1st June 2010, 03:51
Following through on Terry's post, Air-Britain's J serials file has:

Vickers Virginia Mk VII
... 58 Sqn (Z); EF crashed in ploughed field, Normandy, Surrey, 12.9.34, WOC

(WOC = Written OFf Charge)


andy wis
1st June 2010, 23:16
Thank you both very much for your replies - Very interesting; fills up holes!

Andy Wis

2nd June 2010, 00:55
Andy, Do you want more info? The LT article lists the crew. Regards, Terry

andy wis
2nd June 2010, 09:02

That would be brilliant! Thank you. I'm going to have a look at the microfilm version of our local newspaper to see if there is anything mentioned. I'll keep you posted..

4th June 2010, 00:54
Andy, The crew was: Flt Lt D.J. Harrison, FO G.P. Marvin, PO H.D de C.A. Woodhouse, and Cpl C.A. Fiddick.
Regards, Terry

andy wis
4th June 2010, 10:03

Thank you very much for that information. Excellent!


4th June 2010, 21:51
Andy, Full article from the London Times dated 14 Sep 34:
The lives of three officers and a corporal of the R.A.F. were saved by parachute descents from a disabled bomber over the Hog's Back, Surrey, just before midnight on Wednesday. The decision to abandon the aeroplane was taken by the officer-in-charge after one of the engines had seized and caught fire. The crew went over the side at a height of about 2000 ft., and he followed them when the aircraft had lost nearly another 1000 ft, of height. All four landed without injury and the bomber came to earth and wrecked itself some distance away.
The participants in this adventure were Flight Lieutenant D.J. Harrison, Flying Officer G.P. Marvin, Pilot Officer H. deC.A. Woodhouse (who had only just been posted to the unit from No. 3 Flying Training School), and Corporal C.A. Fiddick. They all belonged to No. 58 (Bomber) Squadron stationed at Worthy Down, Winchester, and on Wednesday night were flying a twin-engined Virginia bomber for the purpose of giving searchlight units practice in locating aircraft. The engine failure happened when the machine was over the hilly and wooded country between Guildford and Aldershot.
The first intention of the pilot was to fly on the remaining engine the 10 or 12 miles to Brooklands and land the machine there, but when the engine took fire this course became impossible. The engines are mounted on the lower wing, and there was serious risk that the fabric coverings of the wings and fuselage might also be set on fire. The chance of making a safe forced-landing at night in such country was obviously slight, and the alternative of parachute descents was chosen. All members of the crew were in telephonic communication, and the three junior members went over the side within a few seconds of each other.
The chief pilot then put the nose of the big machine downwards and dived overboard himself. Something struck his head as he went down. He thought it was part of the tail, but it was not a heavy blow. All men waited until they were well clear of the machine before pulling the rip-rings of their parachutes, and all made easy descents and landed in fields. One found himself in a field of cattle whose excited inquisitiveness led him to escape hastily over a hedge into the next field. All four were collected in succession by a motor-car which happened to be travelling along the road that runs the length of the Hog's Back between Aldershot and Guildford, and were taken into the latter town.
The bomber crashed in a ploughed field near the village of Wood Street, having passed just clear of a signal-box and some houses beside the Guildford to Farnham railway line. The violence of the impact evidently extinguished the fire. The aeroplane rebounded from the field with its back broken and came to rest upside down some 20 yards away. It did not take fire on the ground and the wreckage was afterwards examined by officials of the Accident Branch of the Air Ministry.
Regards, Terry

andy wis
4th June 2010, 22:32

Thank you so much for retrieving that account - absolutely brilliant. Do you live locally to Guildford??


5th June 2010, 09:14

The log-book of one of the crew is at the National Archives in Kew :

Piece reference AIR 4/115
Rank and Name: W/Cdr.H.de C.A. Woodhouse, Remarks: Civil flying and training; fighter operations over Europe and Asia; f ...
AIR Records created or inherited by the Air Ministry, the Royal Air Force, and related bodies
Division within AIR Records of the Royal Air Force
AIR 4 Air Ministry and Ministry of Defence: Aircrews' Flying Log Books
R.A.F. Pilot's Flying Log Books -

Record Summary
Scope and content Rank and Name: W/Cdr.H.de C.A. Woodhouse, Remarks: Civil flying and training; fighter operations over Europe and Asia; fighter/bomber and intruder operations over Europe; fighter operations against flying bombs.
Covering dates 1932 Jan.-1944 July
Note 5 vols.
Held by The National Archives, Kew

Legal status Public Record(s)

It's one I've not checked so far, especially when one sees there's 5 volumes all together. If you're anywhere near Kew, it might be worth a check, even just for the page which mentions the bailing out. Clippings could have been added to the log-book as well.


5th June 2010, 10:46
The name intrigued me enough to have a quick Google:-

34189 Henry de Clifford Anthony "Paddy" Woodhouse

To No. 3 Flying Training School (Grantham) 03 Apr 34 (FLIGHT, APRIL 19, 1984)


Commander 610 Squadron April June 1941


Commander 71 (Eagle) Squadron June 41 - Aug/Sep 41??


Officer Commanding, No 16 Wing Aug 43 - Apr 44 (As G/C)

(Chris Thomas - "Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War 2")

Killed 13/08/1944 with 85 Squadron (As W/Cdr - substansive rank or a voluntary reduction to recommence flying?)


Commemorated at Runnymede and Godalming




5th June 2010, 20:56
Andy, No I am a New Zealander temporarily resident in Tampa, Florida. Regards, Terry

andy wis
5th June 2010, 22:37
Just amazing what knowledge people have, and the "world-wide" spread of their helpfulness.Thanks, guys....