Wellington Mk.III BJ652 / Z of No.27 Operational Training Unit, crashed close to Smerrill near Youlgreave on the 21st January 1944

Vickers Wellington Mk.X at the Royal Air Force Museum


Lloyd George Edmonds Flight Sergeant RAAF Pilot Killed
Frederick Popsham Deshorn Flight Sergeant RAAF Navigator Killed
James Kydd Flight Sergeant RAAF Air Bomber Killed
William Thomas Barnes Flight Sergeant RAAF Wireless Operator Killed
Keith Jobson Perrett Flying Officer RAAF Air Gunner Killed
Thomas Dudley Murton Sergeant RAAF Air Gunner Killed


The crew of 6 Australians were flying a 3.5 hour night cross country flight from RAF Church Broughton near Derby, a satellite to No.27 OTU’s main base at Lichfield. Their route, covering nearly 500 miles, was Church Broughton – Haverhill (Suffolk) – Pocklington (East Yorkshire) – Goole (East Yorkshire) – Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk) – Melton Mowbray (Rutland) and return to Church Broughton. Originally their route was to have taken them as far north as Peebles in the Scottish borders but expected bad weather meant this leg was removed from the plan.

Initially the crew were not assigned to fly BJ652, but their primary aircraft (coded K) was declared as unserviceable due to an oil leak so they switched to BJ652. The W/T equipment that was fitted to BJ652 was also faulty and this had to be repaired before the crew could depart. This delayed their take off from a planned 17:30 until 20:17.

The flight then proceeded normally with the the first legs of the flight being recorded in the W/T log on board the aircraft. At 21:40 Lichfield transmitted a message instructing the crew to return by 23:00 as the weather front affecting Scotland was expected to arrive across northern England around 23:30. At around the same time the crew had recorded their position as 2 miles East of Gainsborough on the north bound leg to Pocklington.

At around 21:55, with the aircraft in the Goole area, the crew turned for base. Approximately 15 minutes later an aircraft that was presumed by the RAF to be BJ652 was observed by the Royal Observer Corps positions on the edge of Sheffield and at Baslow heading in a South Westerly direction at about 2,000 feet.

Shortly after this the aircraft crashed at Smerril a few miles SW of Bakewell, the aircraft had flown into a rock outcrop and was completely destroyed

The Court of Inquiry concluded that the aircraft was approximately on course and that the flight was proceeding normally with the crew regularly obtaining radio position fixes with QDMs from various stations, including one from Lichfield a minute before the crash. They were always close to on course, even at the time of the crash. The low altitude of the aircraft was put down to the pilot knowing that they were approaching the base and began to descend but may also have had a faulty altimeter. The change in air pressure that had occurred during the flight would have meant the altimeter would have over read by some 90 feet.

It was also recorded that the expected weather conditions that lead to the recall of flights had not developed fully by midnight and conditions were still good for flying.

Crash site of Vickers Wellington Mk.III BJ652 at Smerrill, Derbyshire
A view of the crash site of BJ652, it struck the limestone outcrop on the right of the photo.
Memorial Plaque in memory of the crew of Wellington BJ652 in Middleton by Youlgreave, Derbyshire
In the nearby village of Middleton-by-Youlgreave there is this plaque.


All six of the crew were buried at Chester (Blacon) Cemtery.

Grave of William Thomas Barnes at Blacon Cemetery, Chester
Flt Sgt Barnes
Grave of Frederick Popsham Deshorn at Blacon Cemetery, Chester
Flt Sgt Deshon
Grave of Lloyd George Edmonds, 416941, Age 25 at Blacon Cemetery, Chester
Flt Sgt Edmonds
Grave of James Kydd at Blacon Cemetery, Chester
Flt Sgt Kydd
Grave of Thomas Dudley Murton at Blacon Cemetery, Chester
Sgt Murton
Grave of Keith Jobson Perrett at Blacon Cemetery, Chester
F/O Perrett