Posts Tagged ‘aircraft’

Mystery of Easterton Hill crash revisited.

November 2, 2013

Back on January 6th 2012 we published a blog entitled ‘Mystery of Wartime Crash. This was based around a photo on a 1980s newspaper and some correspondence in subsequent issues of the paper. You can click here to see that blog.

We are revisiting that story today because we have just acquired our own photo of the aircraft which came down. It is not of the highest quality – indeed our print has been made back to front – but it is better than the dotty image of a 1980s newspaper.

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Plane which came down on Easterton Hill

The rear of the photo is clearly captioned.

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The caption says 1944, but was it?

The correspondence in the 1980s pondered on just when this mishap occurred and whether locals might have got things muddled. Martin Honeychurch appeared to have done some thorough research for in his letter to the paper he suggests the photo was taken pre-war.

He writes:

The aircraft G-ACKR is a De Havilland Leopard Moth built at Hatfield in 1934. Out of 66 British registered Leopard Moths 44 were impressed at the outbreak of the 1939-45 war for communication duties with the RAF and the ATA.

Leopard Moth G-ACKR was first owned by J R Bryans, Heston, then sold to L. H. Stace, Heston in 1935, before being impressed in March 1940 and given serial No. SX9294.

As soon as G-ACKR was impressed it would have most certainly been camouflaged and had the No. SX9294 in place of the civilian registration.

I’m guessing the photo was taken when the aircraft landed, maybe unintentionally, on the hill causing much local interest and perhaps sustaining some minor airframe damage and this has become confused with another later accident.

So Martin (and it would be good to hear from him) definitely thought this was a pre-war photo and not 1944 at all.

It’s a longish shot, but maybe somebody will recognise somebody in the crowd of onlookers which might help identify a year for certain.

Do, please, get in touch if you have any more to add on this mystery.

Where was the landing strip?

February 26, 2012

Quite by chance, more than one local person has heard tell of a Market Lavington, World War 1 Air strip during recent weeks. What nobody knows is where it was.

The main evidence comes from a piece which was  posted on ‘The Great War’ forum on the web. This piece said,

At the National Archives I was looking through MUN 4/5850, “Guarding of buildings at aerodromes awaiting disposal”, when I came across a long list of “RAF stations for relinquishment or disposal up to 30/6/19”. They appeared to be mostly minor establishments, but I was surprised to see that “Market Lavington landing ground” was included, Market Lavington being a small town on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain.

I thought I knew my Wiltshire WWI airfields, but this was a new one on me. I consulted Rod Priddle, author of the 396-page Wings over Wiltshire, which inferred that there was a landing ground near Market Lavington early in WWII, but it was subject to air pockets, leading to its closure and a transfer of operations to New Zealand Farm by October 9, 1940. He was unaware of a WWI landing ground there.

There were two WWI landing grounds at Tilshead, four miles to the south of Market Lavington.

Any information will be very welcome. There are a number of AIR 1 files that may be worth my while consulting next time I visit TNA, but I wonder if they will have much to say about what would appear to have been a very modest facility.

Moonraker

Now we know about the World War II air strip which was on Salisbury Plain, quite close to the present Lavington Vedette. Indeed, we are reliably informed that a strange but extant pipe in the ground was a refuelling point for aircraft that landed there.

Refuelling point for aircraft at the World War II landing site on Market Lavington Hill

Can anybody help us solve the mystery of the location of the older air strip?

Mystery of wartime crash

January 6, 2012

When this image appeared in the local paper (Wiltshire Gazette and Herald) back in 1987, local residents in Market Lavington and Easterton were invited to tell the paper more. The image was of a ‘grounded’ aeroplane and its caption suggested it had crashed on Easterton Hill in 1944, causing two fatalities.

News clip from the Wiltshire Gazetter and Herald in 1987 - an aircraft 'down' on Easterton Hill, possibly in 1944

Locals rose to the challenge. The image prompted a flood of letters to the paper.

Former Market Lavington resident Michael Gale had ideas about the plane 'crash'.

V King of Little Cheverell makes a contribution

Tom Gye of Market Lavington agrees - this was not the wartime crash.

Clem Bowyer of Market Lavington tells us that the trampling of the crops around the crash actually improved the yield!

Martin Honeychurch of Market Lavington has done the research.

Well done Martin – who seems to have at least identified the plane. Like Martin, we wish there were more photos like it. If there are, and they were taken in Market Lavington or Easterton, then please let us know at the museum.