Airspeed Oxford Mk.II X7064 of No.11 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit crashed on Moel y Gamelin near Llangollen on the 20th February 1944

Airspeed Oxford at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon


Robert Meade Sinclair Flight Sergeant, RCAF Pilot (Instructor) Killed
Christopher Bewick Sergeant, RAuxAF Pilot (u/t) Killed


During the evening of the 20th February 1944 Oxford X7064 took off from RAF Wrexham with two crew aboard for a night training flight. The flight was authorised as a one hour dual aerodrome survey flight which meant that with two crew onboard the aircraft would remain in the immediate vicinity of the airfield, and certainly within view of its Pundit light, for the duration of the sortie. It was planned that the aircraft would operate at about 2,400ft, some 600ft below the cloud base that night.

Crash site of Airspeed Oxford Mk.II X7064 on Moel y Gamelin, Llangollen, Denbighshire
For many years the crash site was very hard to locate, however devestating moorland fires in 2018 uncovered vast areas of the hill where the aicraft crashed allowing the site to be fairly easily located. This shows a pit on the slopes of Moel y Gamelin where pieces of the aircraft had been disposed of and during the 1980s unearthed.

The only communication between the two crew and ground control at Wrexham was as the aircraft was taxying from its dispersal point for take-off, after this there was no further radio traffic recorded.

At 21:25, an hour after X7064 had left Wrexham, the navigation lights of an aircraft were seen by the Royal Observer Corps at a low altitude heading in a north westerly direction over their observation site 1 mile north west of Ruthin. A few minutes later the aircraft was seen again heading in the opposite direction at the same height, this course was taking the aircraft towards high ground.

Crash site of Airspeed Oxford Mk.II X7064 on Moel y Gamelin, Llangollen, Denbighshire
Some of the remaining fragments of the aircraft scattered about the crash site.

A witness around the village of Bryneglwys a few miles south of Ruthin saw the aircraft circling for a short time before it flew towards the east followed a short time later by a flash as it struck the side of Moel y Gamelin. Moel y Gamelin is an 1,800ft high summit on the ridge to the north west of the town of Llangollen and 12.5 miles away from the airfield at Wrexham.

The crash was soon reported with the R.O.C. reporting that they had tracked an aircraft south of Ruthin which had then disappeared along with the report of a fire being seen on high ground. At about the same time RAF Cark had reported that one of their Ansons was missing on a flight in the region. This information was passed to RAF stations in North Wales with the Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Llandwrog but as the reported location was near Wrexham they took over dealing with the report from near Ruthin, as it turned out this was their aircraft. The Anson from Cark was located on high ground in the Carneddau to the south of Conwy with Llandwrog dealing with that incident.

Crash site of Airspeed Oxford Mk.II X7064 on Moel y Gamelin, Llangollen, Denbighshire
One of the more recognisable pieces of an aircraft which can still be found at the crash site.

The cause of crash was put down to the aircraft having left the area immediately around the airfield and as a consequence loss of visual contact with the Pundit light. Also the lack of radio contact with the ground after taxying was highlighted. This was either due the failure of radio equipment or that neither of the pilots used it. No calls for assistance were heard by any ground stations on the “Darky” channel either which maybe pointed to a failure within the transmitter, however this would remain uncertain as the equipment was destroyed by the crash making analysis of whether it was working before the crash or not impossible.

After the crash the bodies of the two crew were recovered to Wrexham and on the 24th Robert Sinclair was buried at Blacon Cemetery in Chester. Christopher Bewick was buried in his home city of Aberdeen.

Grave of Robert Meade Sinclair at Chester Blacon Cemetery, killed in the crash of Airspeed Oxford Mk.II X7064 on Moel y Gamelin, Llangollen, Denbighshire
The grave of Robert Meade Sinclair at Blacon Cemetery in Chester. As is not uncommon with RCAF casualties his headstone is marked with a rank one band above that which he nominally held when he was killed.