Avro Lancaster B. Mk.I PD259 / JO-G of No.463 Sqn, RAAF, crashed on Carn Icean Duibhe in the Monadhliath Mountains during the night of the 31st August 1944
|Robert Henry Beddoe||Flying Officer, RAAF||Pilot||Killed|
|George Henry Middleton||Warrant Officer, RAF||Flight Engineer||Killed|
|Frederic Murray Walker||Flight Sergeant, RAAF||Navigator||Killed|
|David Henry Ryan||Flight Sergeant, RAAF||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|Terence Roy Dent||Flight Sergeant, RAAF||Wireless Operator||Killed|
|Stanley Arthur Abbott||Flight Sergeant, RAAF||Air Gunner (Mid-upper)||Killed|
|Bevil Milton Glover||Flight Sergeant, RAAF||Air Gunner (Rear)||Killed|
The crew of PD259 were made up of six members of the Royal Australian Air Force and single member of the Royal Air Force. All six of the Australians had first come together at No.27 OTU at Lichfield at the end of February 1944. After completing their course at No.27 OTU they moved to No.1661 Heavy Conversion Unit at Winthorpe near Newark-on-Trent where they were joined by their Flight Engineer and then to No.5 Lancaster Finishing School at Syerston which was also close to Newark before finally being posted to an operational Squadron. The Squadron they were posted to was No.83 on the 27th August 1944, this unit being based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, and on the same day were placed on attachment to No.463 (RAAF) Squadron at RAF Waddington just south of Lincoln.
On the 31st August the crew were detailed to carry out a cross country navigation exercise as part of their final preparation for operational flying. Their route took them over central Scotland at an altitude of 22,000 feet. Extensive cloud cover was expected from around 1,000ft up to 20,000ft and locally to 25,000ft where the clouds were Cumulonimbus. Above the clouds there was good illumination from the moon and below the cloud base visibility was also expected to be good.
While on a leg of the flight to the south of Inverness the aircraft entered a steep descent, during this dive the pilot attempted to recover the aircraft but the stresses on the air frame induced by trying to pull out of a high speed dive caused the aircraft to break apart in mid-air. This fate befell a number of Lancasters, with PB456 of No.101 Squadron crashing only two weeks later near Loch Lomond as a result of breaking up in a dive. The mid-air break up cause wreckage to fall over a wide area of the south eastern part of Carn Icean Duibhe, a remote moorland covered mountain in the middle of the Monadhliath Mountains between Strath Spey and Loch Ness. The single largest remaining part of the aircraft being the centre section consisting of part of the fuselage and inner wings. When that section struck the ground it gouged a large crater in the high moorland, which is still the largest feature at the crash site.
Despite being a very remote location the crash site was soon reached by a team from No.19 OTU at RAF Kinloss to whom the task of recovering the bodies of the crew fell. Unusually for a crash involving mostly Commonwealth aircrew their bodies were not buried in the region where they were killed but were instead taken to the regional cemetery used by No.5 Group of Bomber Command which was Cambridge City Cemetery. The sole RAF member of the crew was returned to his family in Glasgow for burial. He is buried at Rutherglen Cemetery in the south of the city.
For many years after the aircraft crashed the site was left more or less undisturbed, and being in a location which requires a round trip on foot of some 16-18 miles was seldom visited. During 2008 and again in 2010 a team from RAF Waddington, where the aircraft had taken off from, carried out an extensive recovery with the assistance of RAF assets with some substantial parts of the Lancaster being taken back to Waddington. Those parts have been conserved and reside in the air station’s internal heritage centre as a memorial to air crew who flew from there during the Second World War. Normally the only opportunity to view the recovered items by the public has been during air shows when some items have been placed on display. The photographs below show one such display at the 2009 air show.