Date & Time: Oct 18, 1939
Operator:
Registration:
K8996
Flight Phase:
Takeoff (climb)
Flight Type:
Cargo
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Catterick - Wick
Region:
Europe
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
3
Pax on board:
6
Pax fatalities:
4
Other fatalities:
0
Total fatalities:
7
Circumstances:
Late in the day the crew of this aircraft were tasked to fly to RAF Catterick and from there ferry a load of ammunition to Wick in Scotland. After loading the stores, six passengers boarded the aircraft. Sergeant Gaut selected the longest available take off run, but when half way across the airfield, the Whitley suddenly rose to about ten feet, followed by a near vertical climb at full throttle. Eye witnesses state that the bomber stalled, below 100 feet, and dived nose first into the ground, exploding on impact. Miraculously, two of the six passengers survived.
Crew (102nd Squadron):
Sergeant Herbert John Gaut, pilot, †
P/O Reginald Arthur Morton Luckman, pilot and navigator, †
AC2 Charles Paterson, wireless operator and air gunner, †
Passengers:
AC1 John Baker, †
Sgt Arthur Vincent, †
Sgt Albert Harris, †
AC1 Horace Jones, †
Sgt Donald E Gibbs,
Cpl W. Jenkinson.
Source: W. R. Chorley.
Probable cause:
Equipment was stowed from the rear almost up to the main spar, resulting in the aircraft being severely tail heavy. The crash investigation stated that as there were effectively three pilots on board it understand why they should allow the aircrafts load to be away from its centre of gravity. It also concluded that operational squadron's should not be used by other units as transport aircraft. It stated that the use of this Whitley was a mis-use of the aircraft.