Vickers Wellington Mk.IC L7867 / JM-J of No.20 Operational Training Unit crashed on Geal-charn to the east of Corrour on the 10th December 1942
|James William Heck||Flying Officer RAAF||Pilot||Killed|
|Maurice Hutt||Sergeant||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|William Ernest Riley||Sergeant||Navigator||Killed|
|James Hemmings||Sergeant||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||Killed|
|Philip Edward Underwood||Sergeant||Air Gunner||Injured|
The crew, from B Flight of No.20 OTU, were on a day navigation training flight from RAF Lossiemouth. The planned route was from base to a point some 30 miles east of Peterhead – Crieff – Friockheim, near Arbroath – Maud, near Peterhead – base. At some point the aircraft deviated from this route and at about 15:00 while heading in an easterly to north easterly direction (some 40 miles off course) flew into Leacann na Brathan on the south eastern flank of Geal-charn which at the time was snow covered and enveloped in blizzard conditions.
The only survivor of the crash, Sgt Underwood, after checking for signs of life from his crew made his way off the mountain and arrived at Corrour Lodge in a very poor state. He was taken in and the next day transferred to hospital in Fort William.
After the aircraft had failed to return from its exercise a search was organised but nothing was found before the report of the rear gunner reaching help was received.
Following the recovery of the bodies of those who had been killed the task of clearing the site was given to No.56 Maintenance Unit at Inverness. They inspected the wreck and decided to abandon it until the spring of 1943 before any work could begin. The recovery operation eventually began in July 1943 with a camp being established some distance from the site, assistance was rendered by army personnel of the 52nd Division, Scottish Command. They provided 25 pack mules and a 3 ton lorry. With these most of the wreckage was removed from the site, but today a reasonable amount still remains.
The most well known wreck is that which was dumped in Bealach Dubh to the south of the crash site and beside the path from Ben Alder cottage to Culra bothy but the crash site lies some distance further up the mountain and it marked by sections of airframe the two exhaust collector rings and one of the aircraft’s engines.
I visited the site during a multi day walk from Corrour station to Kinloch Laggan also visiting Whitley LA877 on Meallan Odhar, we camped near this site for one night and spent the second night about a mile from the crash site of LA877 before walking out to the road.
Those who died were buried at various locations in the British Isles.