de Havilland DH60X Moth G-EBWA, crashed on Burbage Edge near Buxton on the 11th October 1934 while flying from Broxbourne in Essex to Stanley Park at Blackpool for an onward trip to Belfast
|William James Alington||Mr||Pilot||Injured|
For many years it had been thought that a much earlier aircraft had come to grief on Burbage Edge, this being a DH-10 but this has now been proved not to be the case by the confirmation that parts found at the site some years back were from a Moth and an article in the Buxton Herald (see below) giving details about the site.
The two men had taken off from Broxbourne in good weather conditions and proceeded northwest across England. As they reached the Pennines they reported encountering thick mist and a strong head wind. The aircraft became difficult to control so the pilot decided to turn back and potentially force land the aircraft. Before dropping clear of the low cloud the aircraft struck rising ground on Burbage Edge. The aircraft turned over trapping the pair for about half an hour before they both managed to escape the wreck and walked to an AA box near the Cat & Fiddle public house.
At the time of the crash the pilot, William Alington, was an NCO in the RAF Reserve, he was later promoted to the Commissioned ranks eventually retiring as a Wing Commander in 1954. During the war years he was a night-fighter pilot, for a time he was the Officer Commanding No.25 Squadron. While with No.25 Sqn he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the citation in the London Gazette read “This officer has completed a large number of sorties and has destroyed 2 enemy aircraft at night. He is an extremely able flight commander, whose efforts to achieve success in night fighting have been most praiseworthy”.
Prior to this he had been with No.54 Operational Training Unit at RAF Church Fenton as an instructor, and was awarded the Air Force Cross and had a second crash in which he ended up inverted. The No.54 OTU Operations Record Book for the 18th May 1941 reads as follows:
“At 2330 hrs, Master aircraft T8550 was involved in an accident, when the engine failed completely immediately after take off. The aircraft struck a tree and capsized, the pilot, F/Lt W.J. Alington, and his passenger No.926724 Sgt D.W. Poole, were both seriously but not fatally injured.”
The following is a transcript of a newspaper article from the Buxton Herald, Thursday, October 18th 1934
Aeroplane Crash On Axe Edge
Into the Ground at 120 m.p.h.
Two men had a miraculous escape from death on Thursday when the aeroplane in which they were travelling crashed on Axe Edge at a speed of nearly 120 m.p.h. Both men were from the Broxbourne Aerodrome, Essex, where the pilot of the machine is attached to the staff. He was Mr. W. J. Allington (28), while the passenger who also holds a pilot’s ticket was Mr. H. Ellis (25). The machine was a private one and belonged to Mr. Allington, who was travelling with his companion to Stanley Park Aerodrome, Blackpool, on a journey to Belfast.
The machine crashed on the moors near the Half Way House, on the Macclesfield Old Road.
Describing their experience to a Buxton Herald reporter on Thursday evening, Mr. Allington said: “When we left Essex the weather conditions were perfect. It couldn’t have been better and everything went swimmingly until we got over the hills behind Buxton, where we ran into a thick mist.
There was a 60 m.p.h. gale blowing and it was almost impossible to manoeuvre the plane at all. There was hardly any response from the controls. We were unable to see hardly a foot in front of us and decided to turn back. But the mist had closed in round us and we had no idea where we were.
We had just come to the decision that a forced landing was the best thing we could do and were searching for a suitable spot through the mist when a terrific gust of wind seemed to hit the plane and hurl it to the ground. I did what I could to make her land flat but there was a speed of over 60 m.p.h. registered on the speedometer and a sixty or seventy mile gale behind us and I didn’t have much chance.
We hit a boulder or something and the machine overturned. I think that we must have both been knocked out by the impact for neither of us remember anything about what happened for twenty minutes or so, although I can recollect faintly wondering why the petrol, which was leaking over everything, did not catch fire.
The machine was a total wreck and it took us nearly half an hour to free ourselves from the remains of the cockpits. We had to cut the side before we could get out.
We sorted ourselves out and found that we were more or less intact, why I don’t know, except for superficial scratches and bruises. We knocked at the door of one or two houses, but they were all empty, and eventually found ourselves near an A.A. box near the Cat and Fiddle. There was and A.A. scout there and he rang up a garage in the town for a car…” Here Mr. Ellis intervened, “I don’t think that he knew where we had come from at first. Even when we explained to him what had happened he seemed a little bewildered.
We have been very unlucky about this journey. We set off a week or two ago, but the weather conditions were so bad that we had to turn back. We have been up here before, but we always skirted these hills and travelled over Sheffield.
We passed over a mining town on the way up and I thought, with the memory of the recent disaster in my mind, that those fellows had no chance of getting to the surface if anything happened. It never struck me what a dashed good chance we had. The ironical part about it is too, that we went to your Opera House to-night and saw a film on what not to do when flying a plane.”
“Is the machine badly damaged?” the Buxton Herald reporter enquired.
“Well,” said Mr. Allington, “whether it is salvable or not rests with the insurance company. But to give you a rough idea of what it is like I will mention that the instrument panel from the pilot’s cockpit is in the passenger’s seat, the machine is on its back, and its pieces are spread over the moor.”
Both men paid a stirring tribute to the Buxton and District Hospital, where they were taken for attention, and urged the Buxton Herald to publish how grateful they were for the splendid way in which they had been treated.
“I have never seen anything like it,” said Mr. Ellis. “Everyone was simply wonderful. They dried our clothes for us, made us tea, and the matron even came round to the hotel afterwards to see how we were getting along. I doubt whether we could have been treated better anywhere in the country. No London hospital would have looked after us like yours did.”
The men made their headquarters at the Eagle Hotel and left Buxton for London on Friday morning.
The Machine was a D.H. Moth.