Fairey Swordfish P4223 of No.751 Squadron, RN, crashed at Heydon Head, Black Hill, Holmfirth on the  25th January 1940

Fairey Swordfish

 

Gerald Vyvian Williamson Sub Lieutenant (RNVR) Pilot Killed

 

Sub Lt Williamson took of from Silloth near Carlisle along with three other Swordfish bi-plane torpedo bombers for a ferry flight to RNAS Ford near Little Hampton in West Sussex, a straight distance of just over 300 miles.  At some point in the flight he became separated from the others in his flight and wandered over the Pennines, where the pilot must have descended to determine his position and flew into the ground on Holme Moss.  The aircraft was reported missing but was not found due to bad weather, it was a month later a road worker clearing snow from the Woodhead to Holmefirth road spotted an odd shape on the hill, which when he went to investigate it turned out to be the wrecked aircraft.

It is possible that the pilot was up to 30 miles off course when he crashed as the logical route from Silloth to Ford would take to flight to the west of Manchester, though he could have been trying to avoid the built up areas by following the hills down the centre of England.

The crash site of Fairey Swordfish P4223 at Heydon Head, Black Hill
Seen in October 2007, the site has not changed much since my first visit, except for the pile of wreckage moving from the left hand corner of the photo and the addition of the matting in an attempt to stem erosion of the peat.
Wreckage at the crash site of Fairey Swordfish P4223 on Black Hill, Holme Moss
The now small amount of wreckage is grouped up in this small pile, until the 1970s there was a large amount of the aircraft left at the crash site but the engine has since been recovered and the wooden parts have rotted with most of the smaller metal parts having been removed as well.
View from the crash site of Fairey Swordfish P4223 at Heydon Head, Black Hill towards the Holme Moss TV Mast
The view back down to the Holme Moss TV transmitter.
View from the crash site of Fairey Swordfish P4223 at Heydon Head, Black Hill towards the Holme Moss TV Mast
A similar view the last, taken during a visit in 2007.