Category Archives: Accidents and Crashes

F/L Lawrence Nelson

L Nelson - In B17
F/L Lawrence Nelson. N.89324. Downloaded from Internet

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!”


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

Serious crashes of Hudson Aircraft from Silloth 1940-42

Abstracted from RAF Silloth Booklet (ed. Maggie Clowes)

Record of RAAF Fatalities: Hudsons

Courtesy Gordon Akitt Archives

Hudson Bay

Hudson Bay Silloth
Hudson Bay Silloth

Photos of Hudson Wreckage.

Courtesy Gordon Akitt Archives

Here lies the remains of a plane thought to be AM 771.

More information about Hudsons

Flying Officer S.F Cleworth

Flying Officer Cleworth of the Royal Canadian Airforce was killed on 27th December 1953, when his plane was involved in a mid air collision with another plane, piloted by Flight Sergeant O.E.D Louden from new Zealand, who also died. The accident happened over the village of Dalston near Carlisle. Both men are buried in Causewayhead cemetery.

Acknowledgement: Peter Ostle.