Accident Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V N1417,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 53944
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Date:Sunday 19 May 1940
Time:23:30 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic whtl model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V
Owner/operator:102 (Ceylon) Sqn RAF
Registration: N1417
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 5
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Wilbers Farm, De Kleft, 1 km East of Bakel-Milheeze, Noord-Brabant -   Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Driffield, North Yorkshire
Destination airport:
The aircraft left RAF Driffield at 20:00 LT on a bombing mission to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. While overflying The Netherlands, the bomber crashed in unknown circumstances on farmland belonging to Mr Wilbers at De Kleft, 1 km east of the town of Bakel-Milheeze, Noord Brabant, 20 km ENE of Eindhoven, Netherlands. (At approximate Coordinates: 51°30′8″N 5°46′44″E). Of the five crew, one crewmen was killed, a second one evaded capture (but was killed later - see below), while three others were captured and taken as POWs.

According to the official Air Ministry file on the incident (File AIR 81/426): "Whitley N1417 failed to return from an operational flight over Gelsenkirchen, Germany 19 May 1940. Sergeant K V Thrift: report of death. Flying Officer W C G Cogman: missing presumed dead; assumed to have drowned. Flight Lieutenant L Miller, Temporary Warrant Officer J R Nicholson and Warrant Officer E H Bros: prisoners of war"

According to the Nachtjagd Combat Archive, the aircraft was coned by searchlights and hit by heavy Flak.

Crew of Whitley N1417
Flying Officer (Pilot) William Curwin Gavine Cogman, RAF 39274, posted 27/05/1940, survived crash, but posted as missing seven days later, having drowned in an attempt to rejoin his unit (see below)
Pilot Officer Leonard Miller DFC (2nd Pilot) RAF 40411; survived, captured, taken as PoW, interned in Camps L1/L3, PoW No.24
Sergeant (Observer) Kenneth Victor Thrift, RAF 580889, age 20, killed in action 20/05/1940, buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands
LAC John Robert Nicholson (Wireless Op) RAF 620766; survived, captured, taken as PoW, interned in Camps 8B/L6/357, as PoW No.13040.
AC.2 Ernest Henry Bros (Air Gunner) RAF 633782; survived, captured, taken as PoW and interned in Camps 8B/L6/L4 as PoW No.13043

Flying Officer W C G Cogman, who had recently returned from internment in Belgium was reported safe on 20 May 1940, but is believed to have been drowned following the sinking of the S.S. Abukir on 28 May 1940 (which took place a day after his official listing as "missing"). He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, as no trace of his body was ever found ("body not found/body not recovered")


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft N1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1977 p 7)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/426:
5. Nachtjagd Combat Archive The Early Years part one
10. Rob Davis Bomber Command Losses Database

History of this aircraft

Other occurrences involving this aircraft
27 July 1940 N1377 102 Sqn RAF 0 Spijkenisse (De Nieuwe Uitslag van Putten polder), Zuid-Holland w/o
15 August 1940 P5022 102 (Ceylon) Sqn RAF 0 RAF Driffield, East Yorkshire, England w/o
7 September 1941 Z6574 102 (Ceylon) Sqn RAF 5 North Sea 60 miles northeast of Bircham Newton, Norfolk, England w/o
8 November 1941 Z6796 102 (Ceylon) Sqn RAF 5 Süderoogsand (near), Amt Pellworm, Schleswig-Holstein w/o

Revision history:

17-Dec-2008 11:45 ASN archive Added
19-Jun-2013 11:13 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
17-Mar-2018 20:09 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
14-Oct-2018 17:24 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
16-May-2019 13:55 TigerTimon Updated [Time, Cn, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
23-Jul-2019 21:50 Dr. John Smith Updated [Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
15-May-2024 09:04 Rob Davis Updated [Source, Narrative]

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