BM955 - Lunecliffe
9th December 1941
|Hurricane I||A.T.A.||Dumfries||Ferry flight||1||-|
|2nd Officer Alfred Edward Green||Pilot||K.|
As with many research projects, our investigation in to the loss of this aircraft began as an offshoot of another project. In this case it came about through our efforts to unravel the confusion surrounding the loss of Spitfire W3628 which is covered in a separate project article on this site.
On Tuesday 9th December 1941 Second Officer Alfred Edward Green of the Air Transport Auxiliary, attached to the Temporary Ferry Pilots Pool was detailed to ferry Hurricane I Serial No. BM955 from 18 MU at Dumfries to MU at Cardiff. What should have been a routine flight for the 25-year-old pilot became a serious situation as weather conditions deteriorated and it is possible that he became lost and attempted to get below the cloud cover in order to try to find any recognisable landmarks. This theory is supported by witness accounts, which state that maps were strewn about the field, having been thrown from the apparently open cockpit as the plane impacted. Those on the ground at Lunecliffe near Lancaster saw the aircraft flying very low, before striking the treetops of a small wood and coming down heavily in an adjacent field, somersaulting a number of times. The stricken aircraft carried on through the fields boundary hedge and on to the main road, striking a passing cattle lorry and bursting into flames. Soldiers stationed nearby ran to the scene, but were unable to reach the pilot, though it was obvious to them that he had been killed instantly. The driver of the lorry had escaped injury and jumped clear, but a quick thinking soldier jumped into the cab and drove the burning lorry clear and the flames were extinguished. The cow he was transporting, could now be rescued, but it was suffering from burns and was taken to a nearby farm and later treated by a vet. The NFS arrived on the scene some 15-20 minutes later, having been alerted by the nearby Army unit, though by this time there was little they could do as the plane had been largely destroyed by the fire. Together with the local police they removed the unfortunate pilot and concentrated on re-opening the blocked road.
The area where the aircraft came down has changed little in 59 years, though the field is now the private grounds of a firm of Solicitors. During our research we managed to talk to a number of locals who remembered the incident as well as corresponding with one of the soldiers present during the rescue attempt and a former ATC cadet now living in Canada. We also discovered that enthusiasts have made at least two sweeps of the site with metal detectors in the past, though no evidence of the aircraft was apparently found. The only physical evidence of this dramatic incident we managed to trace were two small pieces of Perspex retained as a souvenir by a local farmer. The pilot now lies in Old Milverton (St. James) Churchyard, Warwickshire.
RAF Form 1180, Russell Brown, Mr. B.G Ward, Mr. P. Moran, Mr. T.E.W. Carford.
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