Flying Accident at RAF Silloth 16th September 1944
Story told by Brian Jordan
After completing his active tour of duty in Gibraltar in 1943, my father, F/Officer F. C. Jordan 171365 RAF, was posted to Hooton Park and then to Silloth for instructional duties, arriving in Silloth in August 1944.
At 21.05 on the 16th September my father took off from Silloth with five other crew members in a Wellington Mk X HF179 to practice Leigh Light homings. Many Coastal Command Wellingtons had a large spotlight fitted in a ‘dustbin’ turret that could be lowered and raised under the fuselage. This light was used at night to illuminate submarines found on the surface, typically recharging their batteries.
The crew on that flight were:
F/Lt Lawrence William Hamilton Coe 120942 RAFVR Pilot (1)
F/O George Edward Lumley 171707 RAFVR W/Op
P/O Harry Chambers Waters 174902 RAFVR Pilot (2)
F/O Oswald John Lander 55093 RAF Navigator
F/O Frederick Charles Jordan 171365 RAF W/Op
A N Other (Still unidentified)
Approximately two hours after take-off, the plane flew into the sea killing four of the crew, my father and one other (unidentified) being the only two survivors to make it to the surface.
The entry in my father’s logbook read: L.L Homings – Crashed in Irish Sea – 5 miles West St. Bees Head – 4 crew killed. Picked up by S.S. Green Isle and taken to Whitehaven Infirmary – No dinghy seen.
My father sustained two broken ankles, a broken arm and cracked ribs and spent until April 1945 in the RAF Officer’s Hospital in Cleveleys.
The RAF 1180 Accident Report Form relating to the crash states the following:-
“A/c (aircraft) flew into sea during Leigh Light Exercises. Pilot homing on a ship burning full navigational lights was seen to fly into sea. Leigh Light not burning at time.”
I assume that the ship that picked the survivors up was in fact the ship being used for homing exercises, and that witnesses on the ship had seen the aircraft crash, without the Leigh Light on.
Another statement said:-
“E of J (Error of Judgement) when carrying out a training dummy attack. Too low, hit the sea. Instructions given not to fly below 300ft.”
Finally, the recommendations from the Air Officer Commanding were:-
“Radio altimeter be fitted. Officer I/C (in charge) of night flying be a pilot. Master of ship be thanked. Two survivors picked up. AOC (Air Officer Commanding) and AOC I/C concurs.”
The resting places/memorials of the crew who were killed are:-
F/Lt Coe Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
F/O Lander Silloth (Causewayhead) Cemetery, Holme Low, Cumberland.
F/O Lumley Darlington West Cemetery, Durham.
P/O Waters Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
My father was eventually invalided out of the RAF in September 1945 and passed away in 1996, having only flown once in a Cessna since the accident.