Blackburn Skua L2969 attached to No.4 Ferry Pilots Pool, ATA, crashed near High Bentham on the 12th September 1940


Donald Roy Strachan Pilot Officer, RAF Pilot OK


Pilot Officer Strachan was attached to No.4 Ferry Pilots Pool at RAF Kemble, he was detailed to collect the aircraft from No.10 Maintenance Unit at Hullavington in Wiltshire and deliver it to RNAS Donibristle in Fife. From Hullavington he flew to RAF Sealand near Chester and then onwards towards Silloth in Cumbria.

While crossing Lancashire the weather deteriorated with the cloud base lowering to cover the high ground to the east and north. Having tried to remain below the cloud P/O Strachan found himself flying up a valley and so he decided to climb through the cloud and turn back towards the south where the weather had been better, he climbed to approximately 14,000ft but was still in cloud and so began to slowly descend. It was while still in cloud that he noticed the oil temperature in the engine was high and so reduced the throttle and opened the cooling gills around the radial engine. The engine temperature began to come down while gliding, to prevent it getting too low P/O Strachan was periodically increasing power. He had done this four or five times and descended to about 4,000ft when he went to open the throttle again. This time the engine did not respond and spluttered, he tried to get the engine to respond but it would not. As he was still flying in cloud and was unsure of his position in relation to the hills P/O Strachan abandoned the aircraft. In his view the likelihood of carrying out a successful forced landing without engine power and being unable to see the ground was low.

After abandoning the aircraft his left arm became tangled in the risers of his parachute causing him to land awkwardly suffering a fractured hip which prevented him from seeking help. About a hour after landing a farmer found him near Keasden and summoned help, he was initially taken to Settle before being transferred to an RAF hospital at Morecambe. The aircraft was later located on Burn Moor to the south west of where P/O Strachan had landed.

Some sources give the serial as L2929, but this serial has also been linked with an aircraft which was lost off Norway. An accident card at the RAF Museum records L2969 which has had the number crossed through and in different hand writing 2929 written above. As it is a negative on microfilm it is hard to determine whether this was in pen or pencil. A number of other cards have been altered at later dates, sometimes with information which was not available in the 1940s, one card records an OS map reference using the modern grid system which came about after the end of WW2. And RAF casualty file containing a Form 765 frequently refers to L2629, but this was not a Skua.

Crash site of Blackburn Skua near High Bentham, Lancashire
Very little remains where the aircraft impacted, the engine was once in some reeds nearby but this was recovered during the 1980s by the now defunct Pennine Aviation Museum, they also recovered the aircraft’s undercarriage and parts of the wing folding mechanism.
Wreckage at the crash site of Blackburn Skua near High Bentham, Lancashire
Scattered about are pieces like the ones shown here.