Wellington Mk.II Z8491 of No.12 Squadron, RAF, crashed on White Edge Moor near Sheffield on the 6th February 1942

Vickers Wellington Mk.X at the Royal Air Force Museum


Colin Arthur Barnes Flying Officer Pilot Survived
Jack Owen Seammen Pilot Officer 2nd Pilot Survived
Philip Robert Coldwell Sergeant Navigator Survived
Charles W. E. Carson Sergeant Wireless Operator Survived
Brian Pearson Lunn Sergeant Air Gunner Survived
Frederick John Blute Sergeant Air Gunner Survived


On the 6th February crews from No.12 Squadron at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire were tasked with bombing the French port of Brest, among them was the crew of Z8491, a Merlin engined Wellington Mk.II. They were carrying 7 500lb general purpose bombs and 634 gallons of fuel. Due to 10/10th cloud cover over Brest they turned for base still carrying the bomb load. The weather over England was as bad as over the continent with low cloud and snow.

At 22:40 the aircraft crashed on White Edge Moor near Barbrook Reservoir and slid to a halt in the snow, still with its bomb load onboard. Two of the crew were injured in the crash and following their recovery from the site were admitted to the Station Sick Quarters at No.16 Balloon Centre in Sheffield.

A little under two weeks later the Commanding Officer of No.16 BC received a letter from the Air Officer Commanding No.33 Group to express “his appreciation of the good work done by the Officer and Airmen concerned” he went on to commend one officer in particular. “The Air Officer especially commended the actions of Flying Officer Allan in remaining with the tail gunner [Sgt Blute, A.L.C.] in close proximity to the live bomb throughout the night.” No.16 BC’s CO commended the following list of airmen, Corporal F. Smith, Leading Aircraftman J. Barnes, Leading Aircraftman V. Fraser, Leading Aircraftman K. Shaw, Leading Aircraftman E. Harrison, Aircraftman 1st Class Havenhand, Aircraftman 1st Class N. Dransfield, Aircraftman 1st Class D. McAulay and Aircraftman 1st Class H. Hall.

Area of White Edge Moor near Sheffield where Vickers Wellington Z8491 crashed
This would appear to be the spot the pilot returned to in the 1950s but there is no sign the aircraft crashed here.
In recent years only a piece of fuel pipe from the aircraft has been found, and this was on one of the tracks on the moor above the reservoir, there were no significant remains in the 1950s when the pilot returned to the moor with his Wife. They were able to roughly locate the area of the crash but not the exact position.


The crew of the aircraft were spilt up following the crash with only three of them surviving the conflict, they were Barnes, Seammen and Carson. The first of the crew to be lost was Sergeant Lunn who was still a crewman with No.12 Sqn and was flying in Wellington II Z1728, PH-U, when it failed to return from a raid against Bremen on the 14th September 1942. All of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sergeant Blute received the Distinguished Flying Medal and was commissioned before being killed on the 21st April 1944 when the No.100 Sqn Lancaster, ND785 HW-B, he was in exploded above the Ruhr. His body was recovered from the Rhine a few days later.

Sergeant Coldwell was killed a month later, at this point he was a Squadron Leader and prior to his commission in 1943 had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal and during 1943 had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order. The citation in the London Gazette read as follows, “Flight Lieutenant Coldwell has completed a large number of sorties, many of them to far distant target in Germany and often against heavy opposition. He is a navigator of exceptional ability and his work, carefully planned and brilliantly executed, has been reflected in the repeated successes obtained. Flight Lieutenant Coldwell is a most valuable member of the squadron and his praiseworthy qualities have set a high standard”. Following his service with No.12 Squadron he moved to No.7 Squadron, which by 1944 was part of the Pathfinder force. During the night of the 20th / 21st May 1944 he was the navigator on Lancaster Mk.III ND845 which was the Master Bomber when it was shot down near to the target of Le Mans.