Wellington Mk.IA L7775 of No.20 OTU, RAF, crashed on Bruach Mhor, Braemar, Aberdeenshire on the 24th October 1940
|Douglas Veale Gilmour||Pilot Officer||Pilot (Instructor)||Survived|
|Herbert Martin Coombs||Pilot Officer||Pilot||Killed|
|Alfred Wilson Milroy||Sergeant||2nd Pilot||Survived|
|Kenneth Winchcombe Bordycott||Sergeant||Observer||Survived|
|George Ronald Lyon||Sergeant||?||Survived|
|Frank Hutson||Sergeant||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||Killed|
|John Adam Sparks||Sergeant||Air Gunner||Survived|
During the night of the 23rd October 1940 a trainee crew along with an instructor left RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray coast for a night cross country exercise with the two trainee pilots occupying the 1st pilot’s seat during different stages of the flight. The intended route followed a roughly Figure-8 course of Lossiemouth – Brechin – Kinnaird Head – Inverness – Lossiemouth. The first three legs were to be flown at 6,500ft with the final leg at 3,000ft. The crew believed they had completed the first three legs and turned onto an easterly course while descending to 3,000ft. It was at 02:33 on the 24th October while flying eastwards that the aircraft struck Bruach Mhor below the South Top of Beinn a’Bhuird some forty miles south of the intended track killing one of the pilots and the wireless operator with the five other members of the crew surviving with various degrees of injury. At the time the wireless operator had been trying to obtain QDMs to confirm their location but had not completed this by the time of the crash. At the time of the crash it was dark, with 5/10ths cloud at the height the aircraft was flying and the mountains were, being mid autumn, already snow covered.
The surviving crew of the aircraft were rescued from the crash site and eventually transferred to either RAF Dyce or the Royal Navy hospital at Kingseat in Aberdeen depending on the severity of their injuries, before finally returning to Lossiemouth. On the Court of Inquiry form it is recorded that there was the possibility that snow covered mountains could have been mistaken for clouds had they been seen.
Of the five surviving members of the crew only two would still be alive at the end of the Second World War. Pilot Officer Gilmour, originally from New Zealand, would be killed a little over a year later on the 16th December 1941 at the age of 26 while with No.24 Squadron. He was flying a Lockheed Hudson to Gibraltar when the aircraft was lost at sea. As with thousands of airmen who lost their lives in and around Europe P/O Gilmour has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Air Force Memorial in Surrey.
John Adam Sparks, from Aberdeen, was 25 years old when he was killed on the 20th August 1942 while with No.218 Squadron when Stirling Mk.III BF319 was lost during mining operations in the approaches to Kiel harbour. He is buried in the CWGC cemetery in Hamburg.
The last to be killed was Kenneth Winchcombe Bordycott, from Southampton, who received a Distinguished Flying Medal before being commissioned to the rank of Pilot Officer and receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross (one of relatively few to receive both the non-commissioned and commissioned award for bravery in the air). He was killed on the 17th April 1943 was still only 22 years of age and is buried along with the rest of his crew, none of whom were over 27 years old, in Brimont Churchyard a short distance north of Reims in North Eastern France.