Avro Anson Mk.I MG356, No.4 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit, RAF, flew into Bennanbrack near Newton Stewart on the 21st July 1944
|Raymond John Crotty||Flight Sergeant, RAAF||Pilot||Killed|
|Peter Smith||Warrant Officer, RAAF||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||Killed|
|Bertram Ernest William Becker||Sergeant, RAFVR||Bomb Aimer (u/t)||Killed|
|Darius Bede Northmore||Sergeant, RAAF||Navigator (u/t)||Killed|
|Edward Hugh Patrick Gresswell||Sergeant, RAFVR||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner (u/t)||Killed|
At 01:25 on the 21st July 1944 Anson MG356 took off from RAF West Freugh on the Galloway coast near Stranraer. The crew consisted of a staff pilot and wireless operator with the three others being trainee aircrew attending courses at West Freugh. The briefed schedule for the flight was a night navigation exercise with two infra-red bombing targets along the route (where an infra-red sensitive film was exposed with the intention to capture an infra-red light source on the ground, the position on the developed image would indicate how accurate or otherwise a blind bombing attack on a target would have been).
The route from West Freugh took the aircraft first to the Mull of Oa on Islay, then to a waypoint described as Egg Light before proceeding to Peel on the Isle of Man (the first of the IR targets) and then on three short legs to Point of Ayre, Burrow Head in Galloway and then the town of Whithorn (the second IR target) followed by returning to base.
Radio communication with the aircraft was maintained until 04:25 when a QDM from West Freugh of 324o was determined. This would have placed the aircraft somewhere to the South East of its base, possibly over the Irish Sea on the Point of Ayre to Burrow Head leg.
At some point after this the aircraft continued north, passing to the east of base and into the high terrain of the Galloway hills where it struck Bennanbrack, the north-east outlier of Lamachan Hill a 717m (2,350ft) summit in the western part of the mountains.
When no further contact was made with the crew of MG356 and it had failed to return to base a search was initiated. At around 15:00 on the 21st one of the search aircraft spotted what appeared to a fresh wreck in the mountains near Loch Trool. The RAF Mountain Rescue team from Wigtown, near Newton Stewart, were notified and a ground party was sent to the area where they located the burnt out remains of the missing aircraft and bodies of the five crew. Using sledges, the Mountain Rescue party recovered the bodies of the crew down to Glen Trool, finally standing down at 03:30 on the 22nd.
The five airmen were taken back to RAF West Freugh where four were buried at Stonykirk Cemetery on the 25th, Sergeant Greswell being returned to Paignton for a family burial.