Halifax L9487 took off from Linton-On-Ouse to undertake a fuel consumption trial on 13th January 1941.
Its six-man crew comprised:
- Michael Thomas Gibson Henry (Pilot)
- Leslie Joseph McDonald (2nd Pilot)
- John Napier Hall (Observer)
- Anthony Charles Henry Reid Russell (WOP / AG)
- William Charles Browne Jesse (WOP / AG)
- Francis Leslie Plowman (Flight Engineer)
The Air Investigation Summary shows “Captain was instructed to climb to 12,000ft and to cruise at that height for an hour. The aircraft took off from Linton-On-Ouse at 11.15 hours and about half an hour after taking off, the aircraft was seen approaching Dishforth at a height of about 3,000ft with a plume of smoke or vapour behind the port plane and with the undercarriage lowered. The airscrew of one of the port engines was stationary. A long flame suddenly appeared on the port side and the aircraft fell into steep left hand spiral which continued to the ground. The aircraft was totally destroyed by fire and all the crew were killed” During the latter stages of the flight, fragments of a conversation were picked up on the R/T by two other aircraft. This indicated that the crew were aware that some part of the aircraft was on fire and that orders were given for the crew to “prepare to abandon aircraft” (After the accident it was found that all members of the crew had attached their parachutes to the harness)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s records show the following burial details:
- HALL, JOHN NAPIER, Sergeant, ‘743002’, STOKE (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD, Block D. Row 2. Grave 29.
- HENRY, MICHAEL THOMAS GIBSON, Flight Lieutenant, ‘39876’, ROECLIFFE (ST. MARY) CHURCHYARD, East of Church.
- JESSE, WILLIAM CHARLES BROWNE, Sergeant, ‘633777’, DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 5.
- McDONALD, LESLIE JOSEPH, Pilot Officer, ‘79513’, DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 8.
- PLOWMAN, FRANCIS LESLIE, Sergeant, ‘567918’, DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 6.
- RUSSELL, ANTHONY CHARLES HENRY REID, Sergeant, ‘904441,’ DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 7.
AM Form 1180 (Accident Card)
Seen at 8000ft with port undercarriage down, on fire at 2500ft; aircraft cartwheeled and hit ground. Fire in air burnt off tail control surfaces; pilot robbed of control, which occurred suddenly and at night? that meant escape impossible. Fire due to the cap of one of the port petrol tanks being left off after refuelling.
The following Casualty Report is available at the National Archives:
AIR 81/4856 Flight Lieutenant M T G Henry, Pilot Officer L J McDonald, Sergeant A C H R Russell, Sergeant W C B Hall, Sergeant F L Plowman, Sergeant W C B Jesse: killed; aircraft accident near Baldersby St James, Halifax L9487, 35 Squadron, 13 January 1941.
It includes the following information:
L9487 crashed at approximately 11.50hrs on 13th January 1941 at Howefield Farm, Baldersby-St-James, Yorkshire. On a non operational flight, the aircraft was engaged on a measure climb and consumption test at 12000ft. The Halifax was airborne at 11.20hrs and at approximately 11.50hrs was seen by the Observer Corps flying at 8000ft with the port leg extended. Shortly afterwards the aircraft was seen at 2500ft with smoke coming from the inner port nacelle, smoke later turned to flame and the aircraft cartwheeled to the left, hit the ground at an acute angle and burst into full flame. All six crew members were killed”
AVIA 5/19 Report Number W953 available at the National Archives
WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)
Aircraft crashed at Howefield House, Baldersby St. James, Yorks