C-47 Dakota 42-93683 of the 2nd Troop Carrier Pathfinder Squadron, 9th Troop Carrier Pathfinder Group, USAAF struck trees on a hilltop somewhere in the area between Buxton and Ashbourne on the 21st January 1945
|Lloyd H. Rockman||2nd Lieutenant||Pilot||OK|
|Donald E. Humpherys||2nd Lieutenant||Co-pilot||OK|
|Robert G. Simpson||Flight Officer||Navigator||OK|
|Albert S. Beck||Staff Sergeant||Radio Operator||OK|
|Albert D. Caswell||Corporal||Engineer||OK|
The crew were on a daytime training flight from Chalgrove in Oxfordshire, described as Contact Round Robin Flight, with 4 other aircraft. Their route took them from Chalgrove to Bury St Edmunds and then to Wrexham where the formation was to break up and the five aircraft return individually.
Due to bad weather the flight leader instructed the crews to break company short of Wrexham at this point the crew of 42-93683 decided to fly roughly ESE to avoid having to pass through a weather front that lay between them and Chalgrove. The crew clearly flew to the north of this track to end up in the Buxton area but in the pilots statement it is made clear he was trying to remain in areas of reasonable weather for as long as possible. After a short time the weather closed in and the crew lost sight of the ground, the pilot had asked the navigator to check how high the terrain ahead was and was told it was approaching 2000ft, as the crew were flying at an indicated height of 1500ft the pilot decided to climb up to 3000ft. Shortly after starting the climb and having gained virtually no height the crew saw trees immediately ahead of them and had no time to avoid them.
The trees caused minor damage to the aircraft with the starboard tailplane and elevator damaged along with the leading edge of the starboard wing and skinning on the underside. Along with this structural damage the radio aerials on the underside were damaged or entirely missing.
While it is impossible to determine exactly where this accident occurred, it is possible that a rumour of an aircraft striking trees near Cronkstone could be this C-47. It was suggested that the Lysander that force landed near there was the aircraft that struck the trees but this seems unlikely. The accident report states the location as 20 miles south east of Manchester which is just to the north of Buxton.
A recent publication gives the area of the accident as Hathersage despite this area being the wrong direction from Manchester and having very few area of trees in a position which could be struck by an east bound aircraft without that aircraft (travelling at an indicated altitude of 1,500ft) first striking one of the higher (2,000ft) hills in the area.