Avro Anson Mk.I N5371 / AK of No.9 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit crashed on Foel Fras in the Carneddau on the 23rd August 1943


Arthur Bickerdike Sergeant Pilot Survived
Oswald Ian Hamilton Stoeckel Pilot Officer RAAF Navigator Survived
Laurence Tommie Sergeant Wireless Operator Injured
G. Martin Sergeant Navigator (Trainee) Survived
? Sergeant Navigator (Trainee) Survived

The crew where on a daytime navigation training flight from Llandwrog near Caernarvon, during the the return leg from Shrewsbury while in cloud, and shortly before 10:30am, the pilot saw a sheep go by beneath him.  He pulled the control yoke back in an instinctive effort to climb and successfully stalled the aircraft onto the rising ground but struck a large rock which spun the aircraft so it ended up facing downhill. Fortunately for the crew the fuselage remained intact, this was shown in a photograph published in ‘Legend of Llandwrog’, but the wing that hit the rock was destroyed, this is shown in ‘No Landing Place’ on page 41.

After the crash the crew were able to transmit a wireless message to Llandwrog to report that they had crashed, using the Direction Finding equipment at the airfield the Flying Control Officer was able to estimate its position somewhere in the vicinity of Tal y Fan. However before a better fix could be made the remaining life in the aircraft’s battery was exhausted, though the crew were advised to fire a red flare every half hour to aid the Mountain Rescue crew who departed base at 11:00. They drove their vehicles up the track from Rowen that runs around the southern side of Tal y Fan. However this track became narrow with overhanging trees and large boulders which caused some trouble for the team. Two flares were seen from towards Llyn Dulyn, but these had been fired by an ‘Army Battle Unit’ who were training in the area. They were also brought into the search and after only a short time reported sighting a crashed aircraft high up on Foel Fras. The Mountain Rescue Service then proceeded up the Dulyn valley and when they reached farm at Tan y Bwlch spotted a lift raft and the five crew with the aircraft.

The crash site was reached at 15:00 and the crew were quickly evacuated from the site and were taken back to the Station Sick Quarters for medical assessment.


Pilot Officer Stoeckel was killed only a few months after surviving this accident while he was serving with No.27 OTU. He was one of the crew onboard Wellington Mk.III X3637 when it collided in mid-air with Stirling Mk.III R9192 of No.1657 HCU while over Essex. The Wellington fell to earth with the loss of the entire crew while the Stirling was able to land at its home station of Stradishall with only a single member of the crew being injured.

Sergeant Laurence Tommie was killed on the 26th July 1944 while serving with No.103 Squadron. He was a crew member of Lancaster Mk.III ND903, it was lost on a raid against Stuttgart while flying over France.

The aircraft’s pilot was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer and then Flying Officer before the end of the war.

Crash site of Avro Anson Mk.I N5371 on Foel Fras, Conwy
Above is the crash site of N5371, the aircraft’s starboard wing struck this rock and it came to rest facing down hill on the opposite side of the rock.
Wreckage at the crash site of Avro Anson Mk.I N5371 on Foel Fras, the Carneddau
There are some small pieces of the aircraft still at the crash site, though you have to look very carefully to find them.