Avro Lancaster Mk.III PB456 / SR-D of No.101 Squadron RAF
Crashed on Conic Hill near the southern end of Loch Lomond on the 13th September 1944

Avro Lancaster


Clare Edward Brooks RCAF Flying Officer Pilot Killed
Francis Alfred William Blerkom Sergeant Flight Engineer Killed
Edmund Foweather Sergeant Navigator Killed
Lloyd George Peardon RCAF Flying Officer Air Bomber Killed
Victor Jack Ward Flight Sergeant Wireless Operator Killed
John Ridley Stokes RCAF Sergeant Air Gunner Killed
James Watt RCAF Sergeant Air Gunner Killed


The crew were on a cross country training flight from Ludford Magna near Market Rasen, the route was just over 800 miles Base – Scunthorpe – Stirling – Huntly – Inverary – Mull of Kintyre – Carlisle – Scunthorpe – Base. They had been briefed to climb to 20,000ft by the time they reached Stirling and were on the leg South West from Huntly when the aircraft dived into the ground close to Conic Hill above Loch Lomond. The crash site lies more than 20 miles of the track from Huntly to Inverary, but is only 4 miles from the direct track to the Mull of Kintyre, so it is possible that the crew were intending to avoid the minor course alteration over Inverary. Before impact the aircraft had broken up with the forward and rear fuselage, tailplanes, outer wings and outer engines separating from the main body of the aircraft. The outer wings and tailplanes landed some distance from the crash site but the fuselage sections and engines landed much closer to the site.

This flight was the first made by Flying Officer Brooks with No.101 Squadron, and the aircraft had only flown 29 hours at the time of its loss. Slight icing in cloud tops was reported by another pilot flying the same route at about the same time and he reported only slight icing, which had not affected the characteristics of his aircraft, other than a slight drop in boost pressure.

Despite being investigated by the Accident Investigation Branch the cause of the crash was not determined. Beyond the aircraft had entered a steep dive while flying at or close to its briefed height and subsequently broken up, possibly as a result of the pilot’s efforts to recover the aircraft from that dive.

Sergeant Francis Alfred William Blerkom, killed in Avro Lancaster Mk.III PB456 on Conic Hill near Loch Lomond
Sergeant Blerkom, the aircraft’s Flight Engineer.
Courtesy: Malcolm Fudge
Crash site of Avro Lancaster Mk.III PB456 on Conic Hill near Loch Lomond
Above is the crash site of PB456, the site had recently been dug on by the Dumfries Aviation Museum which explains the few piles of earth around the crash site.
Engine recovered from the crash site of Avro Lancaster Mk.III PB456 on Conic Hill near Loch Lomond
Since my visit they returned and successfully recovered two very intact Merlin engines which are now on display at their museum, below is a photograph of one of those engines from 2010.