Avro Lancaster Mk.III NE132 of No.1653 Heavy Conversion Unit, RAF, crashed on Foel Ddu near Harlech on the 6th February 1945
|David Henry Robert Evans||Flying Officer, RAAF||Pilot||Killed|
|Maxwell Walter Moon||Flying Officer, RAAF||Navigator||Killed|
|George Edward William Hodge||Sergeant||Flight Engineer||Killed|
|Charles William Souden||Sergeant||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|Alfred Ernest Oliff||Sergeant||Wireless Operator||Killed|
|Harold Nielsen||Sergeant||Air Gunner||Killed|
|Arthur David Gash||Sergeant||Air Gunner||Killed|
The crew of NE132 were briefed to carry out a night cross country navigation exercise from RAF North Luffenham, near Oakham in Rutland, following a route of just over 700 miles. The first half of the route, as far as Bideford in Devon, was to be flown at 12,000ft and from there at 20,000ft. The final way points were Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsular – Harlech – Fen’s Moss – Base. The weather forecast for that part of the route gave the possibility of Cumulo-nimbus with associated turbulance and icing and the crew were advised where possible to avoid any weather. It was very around the turning point at Harlech that control of the aircraft was lost; residents in the Harlech area heard the aircraft apparently in a dive, after this they saw a glow in the clouds to the east caused by the post impact fire. It was obvious to the investigators that the aircraft had dived into the high ground of Foel Ddu at high speed but they were not able to determine the cause of the loss of control due to the almost complete destruction of the aircraft though icing was speculated as a likely cause at or just after the course alteration over Harlech. It was found that shortly before impact the aircraft had begun to break up due to aerodymanic loads with No.1 port fuel tank panel becoming detached, this may then have struck the port tail fin as the top three feet of this and part of the port rudder were also found to have come away as were some pieces of the mid-upper turret, the remainder of the aircraft was intact when it impact the ground.
The crash was reported to RAF Llanbedr, near Harlech, at 02:28 by a Corporal from the RAF Police, within half an hour the station’s Medical Officer and a search party were sent out to locate the crash site. The wreckage of the aircraft was found at 10:00 and was described as being strewn over a wide area, the first party located one body and a later party sent out in the afternoon located four more. Searches to locate and identitfy the remaining two crew members continued until the 9th February when they were called off. After this search parties were sent out each day until the 15th to help locate as much of the aircraft as possible to aid the investigation into the crash.
The two crew members who were not found during the searches of the crash site were the pilot, Flying Officer Evans, and rear gunner, Sergeant Gash, remain missing and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial along with over 20,000 other Air Force personnel who died in and around Northern and Western Europe.
The five crew members whose bodies were found were buried at various locations in the UK, two are buried at Blacon Cemetery in Chester.