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Fighter plane crashes in Uplyme - 60 years ago.
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geoff



Joined: 17 Sep 2005

Posts: 705
Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 25/04/07, 07:55    Post subject: Fighter plane crashes in Uplyme - 60 years ago. Reply with quote

I received this email from Dave Loft, now living in Australia who was evacuated to Uplyme duriong the second World War. I find his memories of the village fascinating. Has anyone else ever heard of the fighter plane crash in the village ?

G'day Geoff,
I am very impressed with your great website that so well highlights the happenings and events of the Village of Uplyme.
However let me very quickly introduce myself. I am David (Dave) Lott, born in London 1936. I spent most of the 39-45 War years as an evacuee at Bulmoor Copse with a Mrs Archdale, into whose tender care I had been handed over by my mother. I attended Mrs Ethelston's Primary school, although I hadn't got a clue as to its name before visiting you website, but it hasn't changed, in my memory except that the rear entrance and the toilets area seem to be blocked by the extension at the RH side.

Etched "Very firmly" among my infantile memories from this period, and one that gets horribly refreshed each year with the ANZAC Remembrance celebrations, (held today) is standing with my back to the school building and watching a fast and low flying fighter aircraft in flames, roar along the top of the hill opposite, and then it disappeared into the trees with a huge explosion. It's not the sort of thing that a kid forgets easily, even when he reaches 70+.
Geoff, Please do you know of anyone else who has can remember this incident, and above all was the pilot killed in the crash? I have tried for years to find out the answer to this, including searching through many, many web pages but with no result. I have many very happy childhood memories of the area, including attendance at St Peter's and St Paul's for morning and even song, arriving from Bulmoor Copse in a pony and trap. Oil lights only in the very small tin clad bungalow that we lived in, and fetching all water from the local stream there. As well as assisting in the haymaking etc. and generally making a nuisance of myself as little boys do!

And collecting foil backed long strips, dropped by German Aircraft to foil the early Radar, that our goats insisted on eating. I also remember the night that it seemed that absolutely hundreds, of aircraft flew over close to our bungalow, and were all towing gliders for the allied invasion.

I think that my basic schooling at Mrs Ethelston's set me up for 25 years service in the Clearance Diving Branch of the Royal Navy, which ultimately led to my moving to Eden NSW in Oz.

Any help on the plane crash would be much appreciated, and thanks for your time in reading this anyway.

Regards to you and the village.

Dave
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geoff



Joined: 17 Sep 2005

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Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 26/04/07, 08:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave has sent more information on the crash and also on his recollections of life in the village during the second world war.

Thank you Geoff, I think that yours is the fastest reply that I have ever received.
To continue the aircraft saga, I would guess that I could not have been much older than between the ages of 6 and 7 so possibly about 1942 / 1943, but a date is unfortunately well out of the question. The school building was definitely behind me with the Church to my left...so facing South as you say, and the aircraft exploded away to the far right. I have the impression that it was around mid afternoon and it was quite sunny and bright.

Our small home, with a couple of small fields and woodland was at Bulmoor copse, and was situated along the old railway line to Lyme Regis, and the train guard or the driver used to chuck the paper out for me to collect. I would sometimes walk the line via Combpyne into Lyme Regis and back, small as I was.

Bullmoor Farm was on the opposite side of the road to us, and the railway, which formed one boundary to our property, passed under a small road bridge, . I can't remember the farmer's name who owned Bulmoor Farm at the time, but the next farm up the road towards Musbury was, I think, owned by the Carols...I remember that he had a son, a few years older than I called Peter, and a younger son that we called Winkie aged about 4.
I used to have lots of fun and help out on both farms, and people came from everywhere to help out with the annual harvesting on Bulmoor Farm, stooking sheaves after the reaper and binder had cut the corn. I even learned to hand milk the cows, which was the way it done in those days on Bulmoor.

I can remember the Yanks being billeted for a short term, at Bulmoor Farm, and the days and nights that they exercised with lots of blank ammunition. Much shooting taking place in the hedgerows around the approaches to Musbury Castle. We kids picked up hundreds of empty brass cartridges...and some not quite so empty!
One of the Yanks accidentally shot one of the others, close up, and there was a heated and quite fierce debate going on about this incident around a bonfire their faces lit by the glow. I often wondered how many of those blokes survived the war. They were all so very friendly ...and you could ride in a jeep with them. Unfortunately Mrs Archdale died after a fall from her horse "Martin" and is buried in Musbury Churchyard, alongside her husband who died sometime later. I then got shipped up the hill to a large house on the other side of the crossroad, owned by a Mrs Riley. I stayed there until very nearly the end of the war, when I was once more reunited with my family.

Geoff, Thanks again for your reply...sorry about all of the yarns, but so many small memories have been revived by your kind contact.

Regards
Dave in Eden NSW
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geoff



Joined: 17 Sep 2005

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Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 26/04/07, 11:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some more information from Dave

Thank you for placing the air crash question on your on website, I just hope that someone from those long ago days can bring this to mind.
I personally did not visit the site but there was chatter by some of the other children that they had been there. Apparently there was very little left to see.
I can remember informing Mrs Archdale of what had happened, and she reacted in a rather shocked manner, and very quietly said that I was not to speak about the matter again.
Yes Geoff the plane was very obviously in difficulties and the engine sounded very loud, but intermittent and spluttering badly, and the plane had flames coming from it. I would estimate that when it came into view that it was about half a mile away and very low, I mean about 150 feet off the ground. It was skimming along the ridge of a hill that was not too far from the school. It all happened very quickly
We did not see the actual crash, as this was among trees, but there was a very loud explosion and we did see the high flame from this. It's funny how some sounds seem to stay with you forever, but are very difficult to describe. As for the fire Brigade or Home Guard turning out, I have no knowledge. As far as I can remember there were no souvenir "pieces" brought to school either, so perhaps the crash site was placed under guard. For some strange reason I believe that it was definitely one of our own aircraft, and the word Hurricane is at the back of my mind, but I am certainly not pushing this as a definite.

Geoff I have been closely studying the Uplyme area on a MultiMap, (www.multimap.com) something that I should have done earlier. However! for my past references to Bulmoor farm as being opposite our abode and where the Yanks were billeted. Please read "Hart Grove Farm." Sorry about that, but it's been a long time since. Also as I often used to walk to school from there, I have now roughly traced my old route through the meadows and across the River Lim into Uplyme. From my re-orientation, it seems that the Woodhouse Hill area fits in with the crash area?

If you view this Multi Map the house that I was moved to after the death of Mrs Archdale, was situated between the tops of the "blue Number 94" printed on the map at the top of the short hill leading east from Hart Grove Farm.

My regards again Geoff, and thank you,

Dave in Oz
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geoff



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Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 21/05/07, 08:13    Post subject: Possible indirect witness ? Reply with quote

I received this fascinating response from Susan Bolling yesterday...

When I read Geoff´s e-mail about the fighter plane crash in Uplyme I remembered that my stepfather (Will Crabbe) had told my mother that he saw the crash. That would probably have been in the 60´s. At my mother´s present age she can, perhaps, be forgiven for being at bit hazy on details.
However, if she recollects correctly what she was told, it would seem that the plane crashed in a field somewhere at the top of Gore Lane in the vicinity of Ware Cottages where my stepfather was then living. He was in the Home Guard and was the first, or one of the first, to arrive at the scene of the crash. According to my mother, he said that when he arrived the pilot was dead.

As I am sure you know one of Will´s sons, John, still lives in Uplyme. He would probably have been about four or five at the time of the crash. But possibly he, or his older brother, may remember the crash or heard more details about it from their father.

I hope you are successful in finding people who have more information. I am assuming that in Britain any official source of information is closed for 100 years?

Susan
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David Lott



Joined: 21 May 2007

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PostPosted: 22/05/07, 01:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

G'day Susan,
My grateful thanks to your mother, and I thank you sincerely for your reply to my aircraft crash question.
Even though our areas and the information given for the crash differ, at least your added recollections give credence to my childhood memories that a wartime aircraft did indeed crash in the area.
I shall continue carrying out further internet searches to try and establish more information, especially the circumstances surrounding the crash, and of course the name of the pilot killed in the incident. I am surprised to discover just how many wartime pilots have no known resting place, which must be awfull for family members. I have a feeling that this pilot may have been attempting to return to base at the wartime fighter base at Culmhead, also earlier known as Churchstanton.

Susan, once again my sincere thanks for your reply,

Dave in NSW Oz
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geoff



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Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 23/05/07, 12:37    Post subject: Possible further witnesses ? Reply with quote

This response received from Susan today...

Since Dave actually saw the crash his identification of the site is obviously most likely to be the correct one. But I'm afraid neither my mother or I have any definite memory of my stepfather having said the crash was at the top of Woodhouse hill.

I know that Will (or Bill as some people in the village called him) worked at Pinhay and, as I understand it, in the 40's at Ware Farm.

I have tried to ask my mother for more information about the crash. What she basically remembers is that he said that he heard the plane: "It made a hell of a noise and we went [out] to look". He had then gone (with others?) to try and assist the pilot (and, being in the Home Guard, presumably to take the pilot prisoner if he had survived and not been British or an allied pilot.)

My mother received the impression that Will/Bill was either at home at Ware Cottages, heard the plane and went out to look. Or possibly that it came down in a field near a farm where he was working.

Possibly there are other explanations that incorporate both Dave's memory and my mother's recollection of an event she was told about. Will/Bill could have been at home in Ware, gone across the valley and up to Woodhouse to look. According to the map it seems to me that a plane coming in over the sea with its course set in the direction of Woodhouse could have passed over Ware cottages (or between Ware and Pinhay), and then flown across or to the left of Gore Lane. That I believe could have given the appearance of it flying across a ridge, seen from the school. But there also seem to be a lot of fields along the route! Hopefully one of Dave's school friends who
visited the site will respond.

It may also have been possible that Will/Bill was helping out at another farm on that particular day, perhaps Cannington or even Hook Farm which were nearer. (I lived in Uplyme in the 60's and make that suggestion not knowing if Hook Farm was operating as a farm during the war.) There was/is, of course, a farm below Woodhouse above the football/cricket/playing field.
I forget what it was called. [Alzheimer's light - a senior moment - I´m afraid. Even we youngsters of 55+ get them apparently.] They used to have a small riding stable there in the 60's.)

I don´t know if Will/Bill could have been working at another farm that day, you would have to ask John. But in wartime especially, with many younger men called up, it would seem likely that workers from other farms might help out at harvesting time and perhaps on other occasions as well. If you could pinpoint with John's help where his father may have been working, there is always the chance of contacting a younger man or woman who was also working there that day and went to the crash site to help.

With the progress of the war, I have been told, experienced British pilots were not to be found in excessive quantities. If the pilot was Polish, Canadian or of another nationality, Dave is certainly in for a difficult task of research in trying to identify him.

Susan
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David Lott



Joined: 21 May 2007

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PostPosted: 24/05/07, 02:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan I thank you and your mother for the further additional information, and for your continued interest and cooperation.

To give me some remembrance of the area Geoff sent me a superb photographic panorama of the whole of the view taken from the area in front of Mrs Ethelston's School. There was an almost instant playback in my memory of the whole sorrowful episode. Woodhouse Hill setting the scene as the background to those short violent few moments. The plane would definitely appear to have come from the direction of Ware, "maybe" returning from the Cherbourg area of France.

As you so rightly point out "Experienced British Pilots were not to be found in excessive quantities." From my ongoing research on the web, it would appear that Polish Pilots formed much of the mainstay during the Battle of Britain including the West Country. There are quite a few references to them including their Victories, and also their many losses. Some of the individual deaths have had the circumstances recorded, but many others just state a date and KIA (Killed In Action.) or just plain Missing.

I shall continue to hope that someone can add further information regarding this particular crash, I will also continue to search for the missing information regarding the pilots name, and what had happened prior to the episode. But so far this crash seems to be quite unknown by any authorities on the matter

Thanks again Susan, and thanks to Geoff for hosting this enquiry.

Regards all
Dave
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geoff



Joined: 17 Sep 2005

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Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 24/05/07, 07:54    Post subject: Further info and a key piece of evidence. Reply with quote

I was talking to John Wiscombe last night and I had the opportunity to ask him about his wartime memories.

He remembers clearly there being quite a lot of airborne activity in the Lyme/Uplyme area, being close to the 'front line' (Battle of Britain etc)
He remembers seeing dogfights between Spitfires, Hurricanes and various enemy aircraft and often seeing pilots bail out and float down to earth under the canopy of a parachute.

John clearly remembers Susan's stepfather, 'Bill' Crabbe, who it seems was widely known to be the "best hedger and ditcher in the area" and did some excellent hedging work for him after the war.

I asked John if he remembered a wartime aircraft crash in the Woodhouse Hill area and although he remembered various incidents in Lyme and around Uplyme, he did not specifically remember such a crash.
What he went on to say however, is probably a key piece of evidence. He said that he knew there was a large flat field just to the NE of Hartgrove cross which, during the latter part of the war, was kept ploughed and clear and marked on military aeronautical maps as a crashlanding area. As John put it "for them to pancake out if they had to". John says that all pilots operating in the zone would have been briefed abaout the field.

Now, if you draw a line from Ware Cottages to that field, you would get a track very close to that described by Dave, so it is entirely credible that the pilot got into trouble and was heading for the 'pancake' field to attempt a crash landing - bravely avoiding crashing on the village ? It sounds like he didn't quite make it and hit Woodhouse Hill only about 800yds short of the field.

I wonder where the pilot was buried.

Geoff.
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geoff



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PostPosted: 24/05/07, 10:15    Post subject: Further information Reply with quote

Susan Bolling sent this further information today...

I was talking to my mother on the phone last night. She mentioned that she had been talking to Margaret, my stepsister, and had mentioned Dave´s inquiry to her.

Margaret said that she remembered the crash. She was home that day at Ware Cottages and her father was working at Pinhay.

She thought she was about six at the time. She is a bit older than Dave so this could mean the crash happened one or two years earlier than 1942/1943.

She said the plane had engine trouble and that the pilot had bailed out but not survived. She was not allowed to go out and see but remembers there was a landing in a field very near her home. Her father must have seen the pilot since he told my mother that the pilot was dead.

Maybe now we are getting closer to an explanation. The pilot bailed out first not far from Ware Cottages. My stepfather must have seen the parachute and gone to the scene ready to assist, or arrest, or perhaps to assist and arrest as the cicumstances warranted it. The plane travelled on (without a pilot which, apart from the fact that it had engine trouble, explains the low altitude) and crashed in the place where Dave remembers.

There does not seem to have been any other crew which indicates that the plane was a Hurricane (or possibly a Spitfire, although I believe these were brought into use later?)as Dave thought.
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David Lott



Joined: 21 May 2007

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PostPosted: 24/05/07, 13:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take my hat off to the last two postings, Thank you Geoff, and my regards to John Wiscombe for his memories, and thank you Susan for your last with the additions from Margaret. These postings certainly add some substance to what was just a very distant memory.

Any pilot unfortunate to have to leave his aircraft, would have had little chance of survival after bailing out from the height indicated by the angle of the flight path that took the aircraft to its final destination, I very much doubt if the pilots chute would have fully deployed. The bail out must have happened before the plane came into sight of the school, and behind the hill to the left of Geoff's superb Panoramic view of the area. (ask him to please send you a copy)

I can't argue or offer any substantiated year for the event, as it was purely a rough estimate on my behalf, and I would certainly accept an earlier dating for the sad event. As has been stated Hurricanes were in issue before the changeover to Spitfires.

I do hope to receive further news as I have emailed two further Aircraft Archaeologists for help in finding the required information. I will post anything that I receive...but once again I will not be holding my breath.

Regards all and thank you again.

Dave
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geoff



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Location: Lyme Rd, Uplyme

PostPosted: 29/05/07, 12:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to Dave for drawing my attention to the following photos of Polish pilots in the RAF from the period of the crash ...







Hurricane

More information about the Polish war effort and the Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II: http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/LOSC.html
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ALEXFIDO



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

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Location: sidmouth

PostPosted: 07/06/07, 16:15    Post subject: PLANE CRASH Reply with quote

hi has any one been intouch with a local metal detecting group and the land owners and do a sweep of the area,im sure this would pinpoint the crash site fairly quickly.
fido
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truthinadvertising



Joined: 25 Jun 2007

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PostPosted: 29/06/07, 18:26    Post subject: fighter crash in uplyme Reply with quote

Sorry to disillusion the Uplyme folk and before anybody invests in a metal detector, there never was a fighter crash in Uplyme. If there had been, there would be many people still living who remembered it and it would be well documented. The best I can remember is a rumour that a German bomber jettisoned a bomb somewhere in the area and I was at Uplyme school throughout the war.
The crash at Ware Cross is an entirely separate incident and did take place. I would date it to just before the war started in 1939 as it was a private light aircraft and not a military machine which would not have been flying during the war. An aircraft got into difficuties and I believe it was due to thick fog and not due to engine failure. This machine came from the South and just skimmed the Ware Bungalow's roof. Bill Crabbe was first on the scene and found the pilot dead in the cockpit. No one had bailed out. I would imagine the local paper at the time would have reported this.
The strips of metal foil 'window' were dropped by the Allies to confuse the German radar about D-day
Hope this info is useful
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David Lott



Joined: 21 May 2007

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PostPosted: 01/07/07, 13:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

FIGHTER CRASH UPLYME.

I am sorry to have remained absent for some time, and I have little further to report regarding the Aircrash Investigators that I contacted. This is mainly because I cannot establish a tight enough date for the crash, and their records are yet to be placed on computer. Apparently they have many thousands of records that can only be searched by hand. I have been able to narrow the dates down slightly, in that I was not in Uplyme until sometime after the summer of 1941 as I was originally evacuated to Askett in Buckinghamshire. Mrs Archdale (the lady that I was evacuated with) died in Lyme Regis Hospital on October 18th 1944, and so the crash would have happened between these time markers.

Far from being disillusioned, I much appreciate the reply from “truthinadvertising” henceforth referred to as TIA, who adds further interest by his/her posting. TIA writes of a crash that so far had not been mentioned, and also does not appear anywhere within the pages of Jack Goslings “Book of Uplyme.” In this thoroughly interesting book many interesting memories and stories have been written, including the fact that at least two people have recorded the definite dropping / ditching of bombs during WW2, and citing the damage caused, so it was not just a rumour. TIA’s dismissal of the memories kindly volunteered by Susan Gosling’s Mother and also corroborated by her Step Sister Margaret (see previous postings above) was, I thought, perhaps dismissed a little offhandedly; memories can be very difficult to catch exactly.
As for the incident of the fighter crash being well documented, well there were considerable restrictions on the media concerning what they were allowed to publish, as it was also the time when “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” There is a great lack of precise documentation for aircraft crashes during this period, as can be discovered when trying to investigate crashes. As for there being many people who can recall the crash, I might just remind TIA that approximately 67 years have now passed, and many of those that were around at that time have passed on, and many others will have left the Uplyme area. Of those that were young enough to still be alive what percentage will have visited Geoff’s WebPages, in fact how many will have bothered to learn how to use a computer? There is also often a delay in information filtering through, hence the date of the first posting on this item being 25-04-2007 and TIA’s recent posting of 29-06-2007.

TIA mentions Bill, Will Crabbe. On page 67 of the Uplyme Book, Will Crabbe gets nearly two full A4 columns full of his memories, which are very diverse, and cover the years from 1917 to at least 1977. Although Will mentions his time in the LDV, later the Home Guard, and many other minute details, there is no mention of TIA’s newly introduced “Ware Cross” aircraft crashing or a dead pilot. Perhaps it’s just me, but jobs that I did during my RN diving career that dealt with deceased persons have remained thoroughly fixed as rather uncomfortable memories.
Just to emphasise a point on the lack of information available for research, TIA’s reported crash from around 1939 is yet another crash, not to be found anywhere else that I have been able to discover any information on. I also had hoped to find Home Guard Records for the Uplyme area that would have proved / disproved my memories of the WW2 crash, but these records do not appear to have been lodged with any authority, and do not appear on the Devon or Dorset Archives Listings. In fact very few actual documents pertaining to the Home Guard activities have survived.

My research in trying to find the facts of this currently disputed crash has led me on a journey of extreme interest to many websites. I was saddened to learn how many of our pilots still have no known resting place, and remain as “Missing in Action.” Some of those that went missing in Action, (and their aircraft) are still being discovered today, and given their final honours, much to the relief of their long grieving relatives. Personally I wouldn’t mind in the least if this childhood memory were “proved” as mistaken, but until that happens I will have to search on.

How many crashes in the Dorset region and Lyme Bay, take a guess, and then go to http://homepage.ntlworld.com/airnet/crash.html and scroll down and click on “Dorset Air Crashes” I think you might be horribly surprised! (Do NOT do this if you already have an aversion to flying!) Note 20-07-1940 and 25-08-1940, WW2 crashes in Lyme Bay. Now revert back to the initial opening homepage, and scroll down to the lower of the two headings entitled = Aircraft Archaeology, to read about very recent WW2 aircrew remains and aircraft recoveries.

I thank TIA for his final lines, re the Metal Foil strips, known as Windows, aka Chaff, this material was in use by both the allies and the enemy, and an article can be found by searching on the Wikipedia WebPages for Chaff (Radar Countermeasure).
Thank you also to Alexfido for his metal detector suggestion, however I feel that at this stage, and after pondering over a large scale map of the area that would be required to be covered, it would be similar to searching the Crash Records at this stage and somewhat impossible. Among a list of local bylaws, there are restrictions for that area that specifically (a.) Prohibit the use of metal detectors without a permit. (b) No aircraft are to land there except in an emergency, though it doesn’t mention anything about crashing.

Regards to all Dave
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David Lott



Joined: 21 May 2007

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PostPosted: 04/07/07, 03:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

UPDATE to FIGHTER CRASH UPLYME.

My sincere thanks go to both John Pennington and Robin Hodges who have both drawn attention to these postings with articles published in the June and July 2007 editions of the “Uplyme Parish News.” Robin’s article in particular was intended as an appeal for information from those who do not have access to computers, and he has received a result; hopefully there may be more to follow. Robin emailed me with a telephone contact for John Manfield who I got in contact with yesterday. While not the information for the Trinity Hill crash area that I have been looking for, it rather points towards the same incident written about in the recent posting received from “truthinadvertising” regarding a crash in the Ware Cross area, although there are some considerable descriptive differences, but not to be unexpected after some 67 years.

I am very grateful to John Manfield who gave the following information, but who also stated that some of this memory was rather indistinct, as he was aged about 14 at the time. This therefore placed this particular crash as having occurred around 1939-40 and in the Pinhay / Whitlands area. Because of John’s high interest in aircraft at the time, he said that he does distinctly remember that this aircraft was a twin engine Handley Page Hampden medium bomber. John then went on to say that these were not particularly good aircraft, and it appeared that the aircraft had made a forced landing, as there was very little damage to it, other than that the undercarriage was rather smashed. The pilot seemed to be OK because he was just lying around on the grass. John recalled that there were several other people in attendance and he was refrained from getting too close to the aircraft. There is a rather good painting, as well as an article on the Hampden at the following link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handley_Page_Hampden

If this report were eventually to turn out not to be the same aircraft reported by TIA, then the area may well start to build the same reputation as the devils triangle for lost aircraft. Following the advice of Geoff, our Webmaster, I have been trying to get in touch with the Lyme Regis Museum over this incident, and also any holdings that they may have on the Local Defence Force / Home Guard. However their website seems to have been down for the last two days, and even emails are getting returned. I will get back to this post should any thing turn up.

Regards to all
Dave
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