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F/L Lawrence Nelson

L Nelson - In B17
F/L Lawrence Nelson. N.89324. Downloaded from Internet http://www.coastalcommand206.com/page24.htm#2

F/L Nelson completed his basic flying training at No. 14 S.F.T.S Cranfield between the 6th August and the 6th December 1940, flying Magisters and Oxfords. Then he was sent to Cape Province in South Africa and was based at No. 61 Air School at George flying Ansons from the 4th February to the 26th March 1941. He completed his final training with No 1 OTU while at Silloth Airfield from 17th June 1941  until the 9th August 1941 at which point he joined 206 Squadron.

Hudson J P5155 Silloth - Nelson

His story is drawn from a website entitled 2016 Squadron Coastal Command. Pilots: Part 1.  Extract downloaded 27 February 2016.

“P5155 ‘J’ was a Hudson that Lawrence Nelson had been piloting during his time at No. 1 OTU in Silloth before joining 206 Squadron, he was there at the same time as Ken [F/L Kenneth Bass]. On the 1st August 1941 he had been on an night navigation exercise from Silloth via the Mull of Kintyre and Chicken Rock. When landing back at Silloth the Hudson ran off the edge of the runway and the port undercarriage leg collapsed resulting in minor damage and no injuries. His logbook was signed off by Wing Commander R.A.B Stone “Accident due to inexperience”. Lawrence had spoken to Simon [Simon Nelson, Lawrence’s son] about it explaining that there were green lights on the dashboard that showed the wheels were down, they were really bright especially at night so it was common practice to place a cloth over them to avoid being blinded. On this occasion the cloth fell away blinding him at a crucial moment of the landing phase. To top things off when the Ground Crew were recovering the Hudson they somehow managed to set fire to it (possibly a discarded fag) and the aircraft was completely burnt out.

This incident also appears in the books ‘Naught Escape Us‘ by Peter Gunn and ‘Lockheed Hudson in World War II‘ by Andrew Hendrie. They both state the following…

“P5155 Swung on landing, u/c collapsed, Silloth, 2.8.41”

Hudson J P5155 Silloth

Ken’s logbook has a record of him flying this Hudson as 2nd Pilot on the 28th July 1941 Turret Firing (extract above). This was just 5 days before the accident!”

 

Betty and Arthur Burleigh

Recently, the Silloth Airfield project received some information from Ken Burleigh about the different roles his mother and father played at Silloth Airfield during WW2 and after.  Arthur and Betty Burleigh’s house in Silloth 3, Hylton Terrace was bought by Lawrence and Mary Marshall in May 1962.  Arthur passed away in December 2007 aged 96. Betty is now 94.Direct links to Betty and Arthur’s stories are here: https://sillothairfield.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/betty-burleigh/https://sillothairfield.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/arthur-burleigh/

Arthur Burleigh

The Maintenance Crew in front of a Dakota aeroplane. Arthur Burleigh is front row, fifth from the left.

Arthur Burleigh worked as a civilian Chargehand Airframe Fitter on the Airfield for twenty years from 1940 until it’s closure in December 1960. He worked on the service and maintenance of the aeroplanes in the hangers. Arthur was also a member of the Royal Observer Corps based on the Airfield. He was Chairman of Silloth Football Club from 1950 to 1960. The team used to play their games at the Bank Ends pitch in West Silloth in a field behind Golf Terrace, next to the golf links. George Doughty will no doubt remember this as he played for Silloth F.C at the time. In 1953 they moved to their current pitch in the Eden Street playing field and a new changing room shed was erected, which Arthur helped to obtain from the Silloth Airfield. These changing rooms were used for many years and will be familiar to players and spectators alike. When the Airfield closed in December 1960 Arthur transferred to Wroughton Airfield near Swindon in Wiltshire, where Betty also later worked.

The Silloth Royal Observer Corps around 1940
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Aircraft on the Airfield during WW2.
Aircraft under maintenance in a hanger WW2
One of the Hangers under construction in 1939.
Arial photo of the Airfield showing the Maintenance Hangers and Control Tower.
Aerial photo of Silloth, showing aircraft parked in the fields around the Airfield during WW2.
A map showing the location of the RAF Quarters sites in Silloth during WW2.
Commemorative stone in memory of Silloth Airfield and all who worked there from 1939 to 1960
 Note:

Arthur and Betty’s house in Silloth 3, Hylton Terrace was bought by Lawrence and Mary Marshall in May 1962.  Arthur passed away in December 2007 aged 96.

Acknowledgement

The above information is from Arthur and Betty Burleigh’s archives. Many thanks to their son, Ken Burleigh, for sending.

Betty Burleigh

  WAAF at RAF Silloth

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Betty Burleigh joined the WAAF in 1942 and was stationed at the Silloth Airfield RAF Camp from 12th April 1945 to 19th October 1945 as a Corporal in charge of the WAAF personnel, who were billeted at the time in The Solway Hotel. She worked in the RAF HQ Office on the Airfield, mainly controlling  the movement of vehicles entering and leaving the Airfield. Betty was demobbed in late 1945.

Airfield Control Tower

 Betty later worked as a civilian Radio Telephonist in The Silloth Airfield Control Tower from 1955 to 1960. There were three shifts, 6am – 2pm, 2pm – 10pm and 10pm – 6am, which were rotated between ten Radio telephonists. They were supervised by Flight Lieutenant Cybulski from the Polish Air Force, who worked days. Betty’s duties were to take messages from pilots to pass onto the Flight Lieutenant, log aircraft in and out and give instructions to aircraft to land and take off. 

One memory of the day was when Cliff Richard landed at the Airfield in 1959. Word quickly got around that he was in the Officers Mess waiting for his aircraft to be refuelled. One of the Airfield Control Tower girls phoned to speak to him and to prove it was him he sang a line over the phone from his hit song of the day Living Doll. The girl then asked the Flight Lieutenant if she could meet him. The Flight lieutenant obtained permission and she was allowed to see him. Betty was on duty at the time and can remember how excited her colleague was when she returned to the Control Tower. Not sure where Cliff’s destination was, but someone might remember. Betty is now 94 (September 2015).

Betty Burleigh (Airfield Control Tower) Photos

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Betty Burleigh in the Operations Room of the Airfield Control Tower 1950’s.
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Betty Burleigh and her colleague Margaret Bilton on the roof of the Airfield Control Tower 1950’s.
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22 Maintenance Unit / RAF Badge presented to Betty Burleigh.
The Fire Crew taken in 1953 in front of the Control Tower.
The Control Tower taken in 1982 before it was demolished.
The Control Tower taken in 1982 before it was demolished.
Note

Betty and Arthur Burleigh’s house in Silloth 3, Hylton Terrace was bought by Lawrence and Mary Marshall in May 1962.  Betty’s husband, Arthur, passed away in December 2007 aged 96.

Acknowledgement

The above information is from Arthur and Betty Burleigh’s archives. Many thanks to their son, Ken Burleigh, for sending.

Avro Anson AX145 Crashed at Geale Farm near Skiddaw

On the 1st January 1943, Anson AX145 took off from RAF Wigtown, on a non- operational navigation training flight. The last W/T message was received from the aircraft at 1900 hours, when an acknowledgement of the correct frequency was received. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft which failed to return to base. Searches by other aircraft and marine craft over land and sea routes which the aircraft should have followed were conducted at daybreak, but no trace of the missing aircraft or crew were found. It was presumed the plane had come down in the sea.

Nothing further was known until the night of January 29th, when a message was received from R.A.F. Silloth o the effect that F/O Norman of 83 M.U. while inspecting a crashed Hurricane on Skiddaw, was informed of a wrecked aircraft having been sighted on a very high crag. A party was immediately formed and proceeded to the scene where it was discovered to be the missing Anson QX145. The aircraft had come down near Geale farm, at approximate co-ordinates 5dgs 38’49N 3’dgs 08’46″W.

Crew: (all killed)
RCAF J/16171 PO Thompson W P C (Pilot)
RAF 129765 PO Burt, W (Navigator)
RAAF 414574 Sgt E O Knight (Navigator)
RAAF 413950 PO Bown, B O (Wireless Air Gunner)
RAF 1257904 Sgt G D Singleton, (Wireless Air Gunner)

PO Thompson, PO Bown and Sgt Knight are buried in the Silloth (Causewayhead) Cemetery, Holme Low, UK.
PO Burt is buried in the Annan Cemetery, UK.
Sgt Singleton is buried in the Hampton Hill (St James) Churchyard, UK

Flying Accident: F/Officer F.C. Jordan

This story is told by Brian Jordan, F/Officer Jordan’s son.

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 t 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.

Dad Crash 1

Dad Crash 2

F/O Frederick Charles Jordan

Flying Accident at RAF Silloth 16th September 1944

Story told by Brian Jordan

F/O Frederick Charles 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.

Dad Crash 1 Dad Crash 2