Handley Page Halifax A. Mk.9 RT922 / F of No.47 Sqn, crashed on Grindon Moor whilst attempting to drop supplies to the villages of Butterton and Grindon on the 13th February 1947
|Donald Don McIntyre||Squadron Leader||Pilot||Killed|
|Ernest Smith||Flight Lieutenant||Navigator||Killed|
|Gordon Victor Chapman||Warrant Officer||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|Richard Sydney Kearns||Warrant Officer||Flight Engineer||Killed|
|Kenneth Charles Pettit||Flight Sergeant||Wireless Operator||Killed|
|William Thomas Sherry||Sergeant (Army / Glider Pilot Regiment)||Passenger||Killed|
|David William Savill||N/A||Press Photographer||Killed|
|Joseph John Reardon||N/A||Press Photographer||Killed|
The winter of 1946 / 1947 saw some of the heaviest snowfall recorded in England, it was particularly bad in the areas of high ground with many villages in the Pennines being cut off. Around Buxton men from No.28 Maintenance Unit at Harpur Hill and the local Councils spent the first week of February attempting to clear the access routes to and from their depot and other local roads open but eventually were overwhelmed by the snows.
On the 11th February No.47 Squadron was put on alert by the Ministry of Food that some of the cut off villages were running low on food and would need to be supplied by air. The food was delivered to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire where it was packed into containers and then onto 10 aircraft. Residents of the villages of Longnor and Butterton were told to mark drop zones with a large cross of soot in the snow.
The crews were briefed for the first sorties during the early morning of the 12th with the commander of A Flight and his crew in a Halifax and another Officer in a Vultee Vengeance taking off to make a reconnaissance flight around Longnor. The crew of the Halifax found that the weather was extremely poor with cloud as low as 300 feet above ground level. However they made two practice runs before making a third run when they dropped their cargo. The pilot of the Vengeance had already turn for home. Upon their return to base all other flights that day were cancelled due to the weather.
The next morning 11 crews were briefed for drops at both locations. The weather at the time was reported as “granular drizzle” with less than a mile of visibility and cloud covering the hilltops. RT922 took off to make what was to be the first drop at 09:02. They arrived in the area around 09:50 and made their first run but could not see the drop zone as the cloud was down to 100 feet about ground level, they radioed their intention to make a second run which reported 10 minutes later that they again failed to find the village and were trying a third time.
During the run out from the second attempt or during the third attempt to locate Butterton the aircraft struck the highest point of Grindon Moor between Butterton and Grindon with a wing tip. The aircraft then cart wheeled across the road and along the fields on the south western side of the ridge. The aircraft disintegrated and caught fire.
The National Fire Service were alerted to the crash around 11:00 but were unable to even begin approaching the site. They made contact with the RAF Mountain Rescue Team at Harpur Hill who set out on foot equipped with snow shoes and sledges at 11:45. After walking around 3 miles in the snow they found a tractor which they then used to reach Longnor but found drifts as deep as 16 feet. The sledges “became a liability” so the members of the team loaded their packs up and again started walking. They eventually reached the crash site at just after 16:00 and found that the villagers had removed the bodies of the victims from the wreckage but that there were still some fires burning.
They then made their way to shelter and spent the night in the Grindon area before returning to the site the next day when the road was cleared sufficiently to get vehicles to the area. This allowed the bodies to be transferred to Leek and 5 days later to Harpur Hill.
Two of the crew were buried in Buxton cemetery on the 21st February with the others being buried across the country.
Members of the crew were buried across the UK, with the aircraft’s Captain and Navigator buried at Buxton and the Flight Engineer at Oxford (Botley) Cemetery.