Accident Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V N1406,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 22153
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Date:Friday 3 May 1940
Type:Silhouette image of generic whtl model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V
Owner/operator:51 Sqn RAF
Registration: N1406
MSN: AWA.1560
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Cherry Hill, Brandsby near Easingwold, North Yorkshire, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:RAF Dishforth, North Yorkshire
Destination airport:RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire
The crew on board this 51 Squadron Whitley were returning from an operational flight to bomb Fornebu airfield near Oslo, Norway on the 3rd May 1940, they had bombed the target from 8,000 feet but became lost on their return while flying in cloud over Yorkshire. Having contacted base and Linton on Ouse for assistance and after receiving a message the wireless operator was unable to make further radio calls. When the aircraft ran low on fuel the pilot ordered his crew bale out, this was done over the Easingwold area (but probably more accurately as being over the village of Thormanby).

All five airmen abandoned the aircraft at 05.05 hrs but the air gunner's parachute either opened in the aircraft or he released it too soon after leaving the aircraft and it fouled the aircraft. He was dragged down with the aircraft which crashed near Cherry Hill, Brandsby and he died of his injuries later in hospital in York.

Of the others who got clear of the Whitley, one; LAC Fisher, "landed at a road junction, from which he saw a small church on a village green, with fields round it." The village turned out to be Kirby Hill, near Easingwold. He then walked to a nearby farm and explained the situation, where upon the owners promptly closed the window they were speaking through and nothing more was heard. He then walked to the village Church and lay down on the grass, after a short time he was joined by his navigator and eventually the other surviving members of the crew, those not requiring hospital treatment were later taken back to Dishforth airfield.

The pilot was taken to Fulford Military Hospital in York with leg and back injuries. A remaining accident record, the Air Ministry Form AM1180, makes mention that the major factor in the loss was that the wireless had failed to some degree. The pilot was however very experienced, with over 1700 hours flying time at the time of the crash and dispite being held partly to blame for the aircraft running out of fuel

Pilot - Squadron Leader Gerald Price Marvin RAF (27230). Broken leg and back injuries.
Second Pilot - Pilot Officer Albert John Oettle RAF (40133), of Brighton. Uninjured.
Observer - Sgt Guy Maxwell Brisbane RAF (515983). Uninjured.
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner - LAC Ernest Fisher RAFVR (542423), of Canada, Uninjured.
Air Gunner - AC.1 Angus Hepburn RAF (620438), aged 20, of Leith, Edinburgh. Died the following day from his injuries, buried Seafield Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Whitley N1406 was built to contract 75147/38 by Armstrong Whitworth at Bagington and delivered to MU store in November 1939 before being issued to 51 Squadron at Dishforth on 1st May 1940. This was a brand new aircraft which explains why the Squadron Leader was flying it on what must have been its first operational flight. It was written off as a result of the crash, Cat.W damage being recorded and it was struck off charge.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000- N9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/191:

Revision history:

04-Aug-2008 09:55 Anon. Added
04-Feb-2012 08:27 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
04-Feb-2012 08:29 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type]
17-Jun-2013 18:04 Nepa Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
13-Jun-2019 01:02 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-May-2024 11:12 Nepa Updated [Time, Location, Operator]

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