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Report - Handley Page Halifax LL505 FD-S - Great Carrs – Coniston - April 2014

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by The Lone Ranger, May 4, 2014.

  1. The Lone Ranger

    The Lone Ranger Safety is paramount!
    Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 25, 2010
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    Handley Page Halifax LL505 FD-S - Great Carrs – Coniston



    On the journey to Great Carrs the path passes a memorial. This is the site of a wartime aircrash and bears the sad remains of a Royal Canadian Air Force Handley Page Halifax LL505 FD-S bomber; it crashed while on a night navigation exercise (NAVEX) from RAF Topcliffe in Yorkshire. The undercarriage, together with a wooden cross and memorial cairn is on the top of the ridge with the rest of the wreckage spread down Broad Slack

    While flying over the Lake District, the crew encountered very heavy cloud and mist. To enable the navigator to obtain a visual fix on the ground, the pilot descended through the thick cloud. This action, however, brought him below safe flying altitude for this area. Very soon afterward, the Halifax struck the ground close to the summit of Great Carrs. Sadly, all on board perished.


    Following the crash, much of the aircraft remained intact. If left like this, the wreck could have been mistaken for a recent crash by aircraft flying overhead and reported to the authorities for immediate rescue and recovery action. To prevent this, the Halifax was cut up by RAF recovery teams and the sections pushed from Great Carrs into Broad Slack. Much of the remains in Broad Slack have now been removed or disintegrated.

    Two of the four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines were recovered from the crash site by an RAF Chinook helicopter some time after the accident. One is now on display at the Ruskin Museum, Coniston. Another is at the RAF Museum in London. Other parts were removed from the site to the Yorkshire Air Museum, Newark Air Museum as well as nearby the Ruskin Museum at Brantwood.

    Those who died in this tragic accident were:


     F/O John Armstrong Johnston (27) Pilot, RCAF (C/29783), of Carp, Ontario, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.
     F/O Francis Aubrey Bell (33), Navigator, RCAF (J/39888), of Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.
     F/O Robert Newton Whitley (20), Air Bomber, RCAF (J/38243), of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.
     Sgt Harvey Ellsworth Pyche (21), Flt Engr, RCAF (R/225354), of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.
     Sgt William Brisbane Ferguson (19), Flt Engr, RAFVR (1826294), of Caldercruix. Buried New Monkland Cemetery, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
     Sgt Calvin George Whittingstall (20), W.Op / Air Gnr, RCAF (R/198207), of Mount Dennis, Ontario, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.
     Sgt Donald Fraser Titt (19), Air Gnr, RCAF (R/271259), of Rockwood, Ontario, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.
     Sgt George Riddoch (20), Air Gnr, RCAF (R/259938), of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Buried Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.

    16 years after the crash, A Wainwright in his guide to the Southern Fells, wrote;
    “The aeroplane, travelling from west to east, failed to clear the ridge by a few feet only; at the place of impact the undercarriage was ripped off (and still lies there in a rough grave of stones) but the crippled machine went on over the edge to crash far down the precipice…â€￾


    I have passed this crash site many times over the years while out on strolls on the Lakeland Fells, the remains of the Halifax bomber have slowly broken up or been removed for display in museums, however the undercarriage, cairn and cross has always been a feature on the bleak mountain ridge where the plane struck.


    As with many WW2 plane wrecks in the UK not much remains of the structure, but the history of the event is well documented and I think worth sharing.

    The crash site is not an easy stroll to reach, probably a couple of hours walk from the closest road, the area is popular with walkers either doing the Coniston Horseshoe or adding a few more summits after ascending the Old Man of Coniston. We had spent most of the day on the fells and exploring many of the small mines to the West away from the more popular Coniston Copper Mines and was heading back to the Duddon Valley for a well-earned safety pint when we passed the remains. There’s not much to photograph, but the scenery was stunning.



    The mines in the main are unreported even though some are extensive. I only managed a brief look and will back up again soon without the kids for a better explore, but here’s a few photos of the slate mines and derelict buildings.





    Cheers for looking, hopefully an interesting mine report soon,


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  2. Clarence Trumble-Lovegod

    Clarence Trumble-Lovegod 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Feb 15, 2013
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    What an interesting area. I'm always fascinated by crash sites, and you have written this one up beautifully. Great pictures, great scenery - thanks for taking the time to write up the report and I look forward to seeing those mines!
  3. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    May 29, 2013
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    Lovely report and great pictures there mate, thank you for sharing.
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