Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle G.T. Mk.I P1463 of No.42 Operational Training Unit crashed near Bradbourne, a few miles north of Ashbourne, on the 30th March 1944
|Douglas Reginald Revitt||Pilot Officer||Pilot (Instructor)||Killed|
|Eric Matthew Montagu O’Connor RAAF||Flying Officer||Pilot (Pupil)||Killed|
|Samuel Morrison||Flight Sergeant||Pilot (Pupil)||Killed|
|Kenneth George Bruce Scammell||Sergeant||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||Killed|
P/O Revitt was tasked with providing dual night training to the two trainee pilots, being what was termed a “screened pilot” with the pupils actually flying the aircraft. They had been scheduled to take off at 20:30 but did not take off until 23:30 due to snow showers and poor visibility earlier in the night. Only 90 seconds after taking off on the NE facing runway at Ashbourne the aircraft struck a set of high tension cables, somewhere in the Kniveton area.
The collision caused the aircraft to “slew to port”, 200 yards further on the aircraft clipped a tree which tore a small amount of fabric off the plane. It was reported by the Court of Inquiry that the aircraft then gained approximately 100 feet to clear the next hill before losing height and flying down into the valley between Haven Hill and Wigber Low and crashing into the western side of the valley at a flat angle. It was thought that the crew had regained control of the aircraft but could not regain enough height to clear the rising ground to the north of Ashbourne.
A contributory factor in the crash was deemed to be the weather, the likelihood of ice forming on the wings and tail was high as there was low cloud and snow. The aircraft had only gained some 200 feet in the 2.5 to 3 miles from the end of the runway before flying into the cables. This lack of performance could only have been caused by ice reducing the efficiency of the wings leading to a loss of lift. It was also noted that the pilots had raised the flaps, probably to try and gain forward speed, this would also have reduced the lift being produced.
It was recommended that “the importance of the effect of icing on aircraft performance, particularly on take off should be again stressed to all pilots” and also that deicing fluid be sprayed onto the “moist aircraft surfaces before take off when there is danger of subsequent freezing”.
The Four crew were buried across the UK, Sgt Scammell at Ashbourne, P/O Revitt at Abington, F/O O’Connor at Oxford (Botley), and F/Sgt Morrison at Ardrossan.