Airspeed Oxford Mk.I NM683 of the Pathfinder Force Navigation Training Unit flew into Rushup Edge near Edale, 4th March 1945

Airspeed Oxford


Brian Gipson DFC Acting Flight Lieutenant RAFVR Pilot Injured
Douglas Ivor Jones DFC Acting Flight Lieutenant RAFVR 2nd Pilot Injured
William John Barclay DFC Flight Lieutenant RAAF Navigator Injured
Victor Percival Skone-Rees DFC Flying Officer RAFVR Air Bomber Injured

As is shown above all four aircrew were holders of Distinguished Flying Crosses, and were experienced in their individual trades.

The crew were briefed for a day time cross country and map reading exercise from RAF Warboys in Cambridgeshire to RNAS Stretton near Warrington, where they were to land and refuel, and then return.

They took off at 11:20 and climbed to 2000 feet on course for Stretton. About 40 minutes later A/F/Lt Gipson reported that he had to turn to port to avoid an area of low cloud and then corrected his course to starboard after passing the cloud. At this point he noticed that the cloud base was covering the hills ahead but “considered it safe to continue flying beneath it” however he decided to climb to 5,000 feet. After some 10 minutes they began to descend, Gipson recalled seeing the altimeter showing 1,000 feet but nothing beyond that. At this point the aircraft struck the northern side of Rushup Edge near Edale. The aircraft was totally wrecked in the crash, though fortunately all four onboard were able to escape serious injury, the aircraft was recently described by a witness as being like a giant butterfly stuck on the hill.

It has also been reported that the crew attempted to remain below cloud and that the action of trying to stay beneath the weather caused them to find themselves flying up a valley with the hills on either side obscured by cloud and rising ground directly ahead of them. This version of events is not recorded on either of the two available accident record cards or in the unit’s records.

The low cloud which claimed NM683 would the following day lead to the crash of Proctor HM324 only a few miles to the south. This was also the second loss in the Peak District for the PFFNTU, who had only two days earlier lost Mosquito KB206 near Leek.

Wreckage at the crash site of Airspeed Oxford Mk.I NM683 on Rushup Edge, Edale, Derbyshire
The remains of NM683 on Rushup Edge, shown in March 2002. The wreckage consists of a few metal fittings.
Since this was taken more wreckage has appeared, it has been dug out from a boggy patch where some of the aircraft was buried.
The crash site of Airspeed Oxford Mk.I NM683 on Rushup Edge, Edale, Derbyshire
Looking along the Edale valley with the collection of wreckage from NM683 on the opposite bank of the gully.