Handley Page Halifax Mk.II L9619 / ZA-E of No.10 Squadron RAF crashed near to Keld in North Yorkshire in the early hours of the 16th February 1942
|Eos Clwydfryn Lloyd||Flight Sergeant||Pilot||OK|
|Lawrence David Hillier||Pilot Officer RCAF||2nd Pilot||OK|
|Guertin||Flight Sergeant||1st Wireless Operator||OK|
|Mathias||Sergeant||2nd Wireless Operator||OK|
|Clifford||Sergeant||Air Gunner (Tail Turret)||OK|
The crew were one of six crews from No.10 Squadron, stationed at RAF Leeming, detailed to attack the French port of St Nazaire during the night of the 15th/16th February 1942. The aircraft took around 18:00, one of the crews landed after only a few minutes as the pilot’s escape hatch was open. The remaining five aircraft continued with the raid. The weather over St Nazaire was poor with complete cloud cover so the crew of L9619 dropped their bombs at their ETA over the target area. Whether they were anywhere near St Nazaire or not is not known.
The return flight was fairly uneventful, the crew was able to use the Cottesmore and Church Fenton radio beacons to plot a course back to Leeming. The D/F station at Leeming provided the crew with a magnetic course (QDM) of 016o which (accounting for the ~13o of variation between Magnetic and True North) put the aircraft a little way west of south from the airfield. The crew flew this course for 15 minutes and were then given the same bearing which they flew for a further 10 minutes. At this point hills were spotted by the Flight Engineer and Tail Gunner. The pilot immediately began climbing to 5,000 feet but only had a few minutes of fuel left so ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. They all landed safely in the area of Cumbria to the west of the crash site.
The aircraft continued on before it dived into the ground on Ashgill Side to the south of the village of Keld at around 01:45 on the 16th February.
For many years, until the weather took its toll, the site was marked with a warning sign about live ordnance being present in the buried wreckage, however the entry in the Squadron Operations Record Book states that the crew dropped their bomb load over France.