Handley Page Halifax Mk.II W1146 / H of No.1659 HCU, crashed on Great Shunner Fell at the head of Swaledale on the 28th January 1943
|Edmond Raoul Herve Yvon LeFebvre||Pilot Officer RCAF||Pilot||Injured|
|Hugh McGeach||Sergeant RCAF||Flight Engineer||Injured|
|Richard Edward Drago||Sergeant RAFVR||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|Joseph Henry Alphonse Beliveau||Flight Sergeant RCAF||Navigator||Killed|
|John Dennis Stone||Sergeant RAFVR||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||Killed|
|Clinton Landin Pudney||Sergeant RCAF||Air Gunner||Injured|
|John Ruskin Askew||Flight Sergeant RCAF||Air Gunner||Died of injuries|
The crew had taken off from Leeming for a cross county navigation exercise, while returning to Leeming the aircraft struck the ground on the north eastern side of Great Shunner Fell above the hamlet of Thwaite. The aircraft caught fire during the crash, Sgt Pudney having escaped the burning aircraft re-entered the wreck to extricate the other injured crewmen. He was assisted in this to some degree by P/O LeFebre. Following the incident Sgt Pudney was awarded the George Medal for his actions, the second highest award for bravery in none combat situations.
Sergeant Pudney GM was killed while serving with 405 Squadron when the aircraft he was flying in, Halifax Mk.II HR832, broke up in mid air following a lightning strike on the 16th June 1943. The aircraft crashed some 2 miles west of Kings Lynn. The awarding of the George Medal to Sgt Pudney was not gazetted until after his death, it was published in issue 36089 on the 13th July 1943.
“Can./R.139022 Sergeant Clinton Landin Pudney, Royal Canadian Air Force. While engaged on a local practice flight, the Halifax aircraft in which Sergeant Pudney was flying as mid-upper gunner struck high ground, crashed and burst into flames. Three members of the crew were killed and the others, with the exception of Sergeant Pudney, were too severely injured to extricate themselves from the burning wreckage. Though suffering from severe lacerations on his face, and in spite of loss of blood and shock, Sergeant Pudney entered the blazing aircraft several times and finally succeeded in bringing all his companions out. He then struggled over rough moorland for 2 miles to obtain help.”
Sergeant Hugh McGeach was later taken prisoner while serving with 428 Squadron. He was a crewman on Halifax Mk.V DK229 NA-W which was shot down in the Koln area on the 9th/10th July 1943. The aircraft’s captain, Squadron Leader F. H. Bowden DFC & Bar was killed, five crew including Sgt McGeach were captured and a single crewman, Sgt A. J. A. Reynolds, managed to evade capture.
Pilot Officer LeFebvre went on to serve with 424 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1945 for his devotion to duty, skill and fortitude.