Shropshire History

Shropshire

Aircraft Crashes

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Due to the number of military airfields in Shropshire, there have been many aircraft crashes, especially during the Second World War when pilots were trained here. In total, there have been around 700 crashes and these have been recorded in the book :-

 

"Pancakes and Prangs: Twentieth-Century Military Aircraft Crashes in Shropshire" by Thomas Thorne
This has 304 pages recording 700 aircraft crashes and is illustrated with nearly 300 photos. It is published by Bridge Books of Wrexham -
ISBN 978-1-84494-087-5.

 

For those with a particular interest, two websites provide detailed information :-

 

Shropshire’s Casualties and Aircraft Crashes – a list of pilots killed in crashes.

 

RAF Commands – details of individual crashes.

 

There is a group dedicated to researching wartime aircraft crashes and recovering remains.  Hey have a museum at Sleap Airfield and details are at :-

 

Wartime Aircraft Recovery Group Aviation Museum

 

Wartime Aircraft Recovery Group - Facebook

 

  

 

It is not intended to duplicate the above here but there follows a selection of incidents to give an idea of what has happened in Shropshire.

 

Derrington – 16th November 1940 (SO6090)

A German Heinkel He III bomber (registration A1LN), crashed on its second operational raid after taking off from Lille Vendeville in northern France. The main target was an aircraft works in Coventry and they were then to bomb Birmingham. Unable to find their main target due to bad weather and smoke from the previous night’s raid, they carried on to Birmingham and dropped their bombs. The aircraft then started to climb to 19,000ft for the return journey, at that time flying over south-eastern Shropshire. The wings then started to ice up badly, causing the aircraft to go into a steep dive and begin to break up. One of the crew Alfred Achstaller recorded “We were climbing when suddenly the aircraft had a problem. I shouted ’Karl . . . out . . . get out . . ., everybody get out’. I jumped out without knowing what was up and what was down. It was pitch dark. I pulled the ripcord on my parachute and it deployed but I didn’t know when I would touch the ground. I landed on my back on a fence post, hence the big scar on my right shoulder blade.” The pilot Karl Svata broke his leg on landing but two other crew members were killed. Wreckage came down in a field at Derrington and at Netchwood about a mile away. Svata and Achstaller landed in fields close to Spoonhill Wood near Callaughton. Injured, cold and shocked, it was some hours before they were discovered. They were taken by ambulance to Cross Houses Hospital. Later that day, Alfred was interrogated and found “a reasonable type who makes a good impression and has no pronounced political views”. The crew members were :-

Lt Karl Svata, pilot aged 34

Fw Alfred Achstaller, navigator, bomb aimer and gunner, aged 26

Uffz Josef Mutzl, wireless operator and gunner, aged 23

Fw Heinrich Engelken, flight engineer and gunner, aged 26.

 

Monkhopton - November 1940 (SO6393)

A German Heinkel 111 bomber crashed at Monkhopton and the two crew members were killed. Flying Officer Nicklin was in charge of an RAF funeral escort when they were buried in the town cemetery.

 

Adderley – 23rd December 1940 (SJ6739)

A British Hampden bomber (registration P2071), belonging to 106 Sqn, was abandoned during an air test 3 miles north-north-west of Market Drayton and crashed.  The crew were Sgt J Sowden and Sgt Davies who successfully bailed out.

 

Market Drayton – 3rd March 1941 (SJ6636)

A British Whitley bomber (registration Z6465), belonging to 58 Sqn, was returning from a raid on Brest when it crashed 2¾ miles north-east of Tern Hill and burst into flames.  The crew members who died were :-

Sgt S Bunn

Sgt T Thurling

Sgt H Gordon

Sgt H Jennings

Sgt K Wright.

 

Brown Clee Hill - 1st April 1941 (SO5986)

A German Junkers 88A bomber (registration V4BS), belonging to 8/KG1, crashed into the hill whilst flying in thick fog. It had intended to take part on a bombing raid on Birmingham but had lost its bearings in the poor visibility. It lost height in a shallow dive and cut a 250 yard swathe through the pine-trees before exploding. In addition, several of its bombs had exploded, resulting in the wreckage bursting into flames. The crew members who died were :-

Uffz Hans Ewald

Uffz H Prochnow

Uffz W Lehnhardt

Fw E Wels.

They were later interred in the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase. During the Second World War, a total 23 Allied and German airmen were killed on Brown Clee Hill when their planes crashed. There were 2 Wellington Bombers, a Hawker Typhoon and 2 Avro Ansons. It is now thought that there were more wartime crashes on Brown Clee than any other hill in Britain. The engine and other parts of one of the Wellingtons are said to rest on the bottom of Boyne Water, to the south of the hill.

 

Atcham Airfield – 23rd October 1941 (SJ5710)

A British Spitfire (registration P8546), belonging to 131 Sqn RAF Tryddyn, crashed while attempting to force land on the airfield after engine failure. It stalled on the

approach, flicked on its back and dived vertically into the ground. The Canadian pilot  Sgt David Bremner was killed.

 

Poynton Green – 23rd October 1941 (SJ5618)

A British Beaufighter (registration R2029), beonging to 68 Squadron RAF High Ercall, crashed for unknown reasons. A local farmer was first on the scene and said that he saw a black cat which could only have come from the aircraft. He kept this cat as a pet for many years. The crew members were from Czechoslovakia and were F/O Josef Kloboučník and Sgt Klváčel.

 

Llynclys Hill - 30th October 1941 (Sj280240)

A British Handley Page Hampden I Bomber (registration P1294), belonging to 14 OTU Cottesmore, crashed into the ground on the eastern slope of Llynclys Hill just short of the White Lion crossroads. It had just cleared the Berwyn Mountains and the weather was bad with heavy rain, poor visibility, low cloud base with and a bit of turbulence. The pilot had been given a corrected course for the final leg into Cottesmore Airfield when control was suddenly lost and it crashed.  Ken Southern and Edward Lewis had finished work early because of the weather and were cycling home along the B4396 Kinnerley-Knockin road. “We had just left Knockin when we saw a pall of smoke rising from just beyond The Cross at Llynclys. We pedalled like mad and soon could see the flames. We threw our bikes into the hedge and ran through the gate in the field. What a sight met us. The skeletal remains of a large bomber burning fiercely like the fire of hell. The tail unit, still largely intact was caught up in the high-tension cables which ran across the field in its flight-path. Whether it was trying to make an emergency landing we don't know. It might have been lost and had descended through the cloud to find its position. A young farm worker was frantically running up the field with a large chain followed by the farmer Tom Tudor, who sank to the ground out of breath. As we turned towards the aircraft, the burning fuselage just collapsed. It was obviously too late to do anything for the crew. The horses were reluctant to go near the flames and did not budge. The fire service arrived from Oswestry and started to bring the fire under control. It would be just turned 2.30pm. They managed to extract the charred bodies from the smouldering wreck and laid them out in a neat line just yards away from their aircraft. All were so badly burnt that they just looked like hawthorn branches. The whole area was covered in aircraft bits, and there was a large hole in the hedge where the nose of the Hampden had gone through and burnt out. As we did not actually see the crash, we asked the young lad Tom Hughes what had happened. He was ploughing a field just beyond the crossroads and was turning the team ready to start climbing up the field when he heard an aircraft approaching low from the direction of Sweeney Mountain. The noise grew louder and his horses started to get agitated. The time was about 2.00pm. Then, to his horror, the black shape of a large aeroplane loomed out of the mist to his right, clipped the trees on the bank above the old quarry and roared towards him over the roof of Llynclys Farm, over the hedge and ploughed across the field until suddenly halted by the line of high tension wires half-way across the field. Its nose made a large furrow in the earth until it buried itself as the huge mass reared up into the air and came to a standstill, the tail end snared up in the wires high above the ground. As the dust started to settle he cautiously approached the wreck with the horses. He could hear a man screaming in the tail section and the smell of aviation fuel was overpowering. Other people were quickly on the scene but could do nothing to help the man shouting in the aircraft. The young lad said he would go and get a longer chain from the farm to try and drag the doors open. He was on his way back when he heard a loud explosion and saw a large column of thick, black smoke rising over the hedge. He came back on the field and the rest is as we have told it. The plane had blown up, possibly a spark from the electric cables. Nothing could be done for the crew. The crew members who died were :-

P/0 George Kerr, 26
Sgt Douglas Jatton, 21
Sgt Herbert Playforth, 21
Sgt Ivor Williams, 19.

 

Buttonoak - 7th December 1941 (SO74407790)

A British Hawker Hurricane Mark IIB fighter (registration Z5663), belonging to 2 Ferry Pilot Pool Unit, crashed on a ferry flight. It dived into the ground in a snowstorm and was damaged by fire. During the 1980s, wreckage of the aircraft was found on the surface by aviation enthusiasts belonging to Midland Aircraft Recovery Group.

 

Montford Bridge – 19th July 1942 (SJ4418)

A British Albemarle V1823 bomber (registration P1928), belonging to 11 AFU, stalled on a night flight and crashed at Yeaton Peverey, 2 miles north-east of Montford Bridge. The pilot Sgt Andrew Begg was killed.

 

Eardiston – 30th July 1942 (SJ3723)

A British Spitfire (registration P7289), belonging to 61 OUT, forced landed in a field two miles south of Rednal Airfield when it ran out of fuel due to a faulty fuel gauge. The pilot Sgt A Frewer survived.

 

Condover Airfield – 5th August 1942 (SJ5004)

A British Spitfire (registration AA928), belonging to 411 Squadron, force landed on the airfield after failure of its big end bearings and the sticking of its under carriage selector lever. The pilot F/Sgt S Mills was from the Royal Canadian Air Force and survived.

 

Long Mynd – 11th June 1943 (SO4091)

A British Spitfire IA (registration AR221), of 52 OTU RAF Aston Down, crashed into the Long Mynd near Asterton. The pilot F/O J Grant was killed.

 

Bridgnorth - 8th September 1943 (SO6889)

A British Wellington bomber (registration BJ621) crashed 3 miles south-west of Bridgnorth killing all five on the aircraft.

 

Minsterley - 15th February 1944 (SJ3805)

A British Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mark V bomber (registration BD420), belonging to 81 Operational Training Unit, crashed into high ground near Minsterley. The bomber was towing a Horsa glider, which was released just before the crash and landed safely in nearby Hope valley. Local people rushed to Mytton Dingle to do what they could but the men either died instantly or soon after the crash. The crew members who died were :-

Ft Sgt R Brown

W/O E Creber
Sgt J Brownhill

Sgt R Hodges

Sgt H Little.

 

Leebotwood – 16th April 1944 (SO4798)

A British Barracuda (registration BV721), of 798 Sqn Fleet Air Arm Lee-on-Solent, crashed en route for Tilstock Airfield. The New Zealand pilot Sub-Lt Allen Lee died.

 

Whitchurch – 14th May 1944 (SJ535405)

A British Master EM391 trainer force landed on Alkington Road, Whitchurch after the engine cut out during a slow roll. The New Zealand pilot F/Sgt J Kennedy was injured but survived.

 

Little Stretton - 31st May 1944 (SO4491)

A British Handley Page Halifax Mark II bomber (registration BB284) crashed at Little Stretton after it caught fire in the air.

 

Tern Hill – 20th June 1944 (SJ6430)

A British Hurricane, belonging to 92 Course RAF Poulton, unaccountably spun in from 2,000 feet during a training exercise and crashed near RAF Tern Hill. The Norwegian pilot Capt L Heyersdahl-Larsen was killed.

 

Lawley Bank – June 1944 (SJ6709)

An American P-47 Thunderbolt crashed during a training flight from Atcham Airfield. The pilot Clifford Jensen died after losing control of his aircraft.  It was on fire and when he came down he swerved to the right, avoiding Lawley School and houses at Avondale.

 

Tasley - 2nd November 1944 (SO6994)

A British Spitfire (registration EP388), belonging to RAF Hawkinge, crashed at Tasley near Bridgnorth. It was flown by F/L A Johnstone of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who had to force land with his wheels retracted after the engine cut out at 1,000ft. The aircraft was a write off and the pilot was taken to hospital at RAF Bridgnorth with a fractured vertebra.