Lancaster B1 (FE) TW870 (25/08/1946)


Lancaster B1 (FE) TW870 left Gander Airport on 25th August 1946 to return to the UK having participated in No. 35 Squadron’s two month Goodwill Tour of the USA (Operation Lancaster).

Its crew comprised:

  • N Stockwell (Pilot)
  • Others?

The squadron’s record book shows:

“Eight aircraft of “B” Flight took off from Gander at 23.30 hours en route for Lagens. One aircraft Lancaster TW870 returned owing to DR Compass trouble after being airborne for twenty minutes. This trouble had been experienced over several flights even though the Master Unit and Repeaters had been changed. Instructions had been issued to the Captain to return to Gander if this occurred again.

On his return, the pilot Flt. Lt. Stockwell, was cleared to land on joining the circuit, this was two hours after sunset. The aircraft was well below the maximum all up landing weight and made a normal approach at first, but mistook two omni-directional green lights which marked the leeward edge of the runway for glide path indicators.

The aircraft bounced on the raised road which was parallel to, and twenty yards from the leeward edge of the runway in use, which was also marked with red lights as a prohibited area. His starboard wheel hit civilians in the area killing three men and a woman and injuring a fourth man. The bounce on the starboard wheel plus the impact with the civilians fractured the union of the brake pressure lines at the wheel, causing the starboard brake to fail. The aircraft could only be brought to a standstill with a violent swing at the windward end of the runway, this bent both undercarriage legs and caused wrinkling of the mainframe.

At the subsequent enquiry Flt. Lt. Stockwell was exonerated from blame”.


Gander Layout (highlighting area of incident)



Local newspaper report [Source: The Toronto Star 26th August 1946]

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 shows that the aircraft was classified as Cat AC on 29/08/1946 and struck off charge on 31/10/1946 (unclear). It adds “this aircraft was SOC at Gander, Newfoundland whilst operating with No. 35 Squadron”