13.01.1943 No. 12 O.T.U. Wellington III X3338 JP-P Sq/Ldr. Douglas M. Foreman D.F.C.
Date: 13th January 1943
Unit: No. 12 OTU (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Chipping Warden, Northamptonshire
Location: 2 miles NE of Woodford, Northamptonshire
Instructor: Sq/Ldr. Douglas Montague Foreman DFC 61478 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Pupil Pilot: Sgt. Gordon Campain 1235252 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: P/O. Dudley William Charles Jepp 127311 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Benny Sober 657878 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Hugh John Nott 1313076 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Gilbert Arnold. Age ? Injured (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 17:35hrs from Chipping Warden for high-level bombing practice. At 18:30hrs, while flying at 900ft, the port engine failed followed 5 minutes later by the starboard motor. The aircraft immediately spun out of control and crashed, bursting into flames 2 miles NE of Woodford, 6 miles ESE of Kettering, Northamptonshire. Sgt. Arnold was found, unconscious, in the rear turret with injuries. Those who died rest in various cemeteries.
On 3rd February 1943 the Air Accidents Investigation Branch issued a report filed as Précis No. W.1424, which reads as follows:
The aircraft took off at 17:30 hrs on a high level night bombing exercise. The exercise had been successfully completed when the instructor was heard to say to the navigator: “Balance cock “B” must be open, will you close it”. The navigator then replied: “Balance cock “B” now closed, Sir”. About two minutes after this the starboard engine failed. The instructor immediately requested the pupil pilot to increase the revs on the starboard engine, at the same time requesting an immediate landing which was granted. He then told the pupil to pull up balance cock “A”. About one minute after this request at approximately 16:30hrs in the rear gunner’s own words: “Everything went silent”. The port engine had also failed. The aircraft immediately rolled to port and crashed from a low altitude. On impact it burst into flames and with the exception of the rear gunner who escaped with injuries all the occupants (five) were killed.
The weather at the time was fine, visibility 4 miles. No low cloud. Wind SSE 5 m.p.h.
Left: Copy of the Air Accident Report
Examination of the wreckage revealed that both engines were not under power at the moment of impact. Partial strip examination of both engines revealed no defect or failure. The fuel cock positions as found were as follows:-
Balance cock “A” - Closed
Port engine master cock “E.P.” - Closed (Pilot operated)
Starboard engine master cock “E.S.” - Open (Pilot operated)
Balance cock “B” - Closed
Port main tank cock “C.P.” - Open (Crew operated)
Starboard main tank cock “C.S.” - Closed (Crew operated)
Port nacelle cock - Closed (Crew operated)
Starboard nacelle cock - Half open (Crew operated)
This flight was the first made after a 40-hour inspection. During this inspection a fuel flow had been carried out which necessitated the operation of the fuel cocks. It is considered that on completion of this test the starboard main tank cock “C.S.” was inadvertently left in the closed position.
From the survivor’s statement and material evidence of the fuel cock settings the considered sequence leading to the accident was as follows. After closing the balance cock “B” with cock “C.S.” already closed the starboard engine failed due to fuel starvation. The pupil pilot in making a grab for balance cock “A” inadvertently pulled up the port engine master cock “E.P” (next to it) thereby shutting off fuel to the port engine which then also failed.
The safety gate (pilot operated) although fitted to this aircraft and introduced to prevent mistakes of this description was not in position over the cock handles.
Cause of accident:
The primary cause of the accident was due to incorrect fuel cock drill prior to take-off and secondly, incorrect manipulation of the fuel cocks in flight.”
(1) The sole survivor from this accident, Sgt. Jack Gilbert Arnold received treatment for his injuries, then went on to join 460 Squadron, sadly he passed away in the 1970's.
Family grave of P/O. Dudley William Charles Jepp (courtesy Kate Tame of Aircrew Remembered) - see below for detail.
Sq/Ldr. Douglas Montague Foreman D.F.C. St. Michael and All Angels’ Churchyard, Roxwell, Essex. Son of Montague and Grace Victoria Foreman of Roxwell, Essex, England.
Sgt. Gordon Campain. St. John the Baptist Churchyard, Westwood, Warwickshire, south part, Grave 270. Son of Jesse Richard and Emma Campain of Coventry, England.
P/O. Dudley William Charles Jepp. Farnham Civil Cemetery, Farnham, Surrey, Sec. W.L., Grave 449. Son of Major John William Jepp and Emily Mary Jepp, husband of Edna Jean Jepp of Farnham, England.
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Benny Sober. Edmonton Federation Jewish Cemetery, Edmonton, Middlesex, Sec. V, Row 8, Grave 7. Son of Harry Sober, and of Fanny Sober, of Harringay, England.
Sgt. William Hugh John Nott. Mountain Ash (Maesyrarian) Cemetery, Mountain Ash, Glamorganshire, Grave 8319. Son of William James Nott and Lilian Beatrice Nott of Miskin, Mountain Ash, Wales.
Sgt. Campain had only just been deemed fit to fly again after being involved in a serious accident a little over three weeks previously. On 20th December 1942 Wellington III Z1617 took off at 05.23hrs from Chipping Warden for practice bombing, probably on the Radway ranges. Approaching the runway on return to base, the aircraft stalled and crashed at 06.23hrs. The Court of Inquiry found that fatigue was the most likely cause, having discovered that it was Sgt. Campain’s second sortie of the night.
P/O. Jepp’s brother, Leading Aircraftman Peter Lewis Jepp of 223 Squadron, was killed in action at Masawa, Eritrea, on 30th June 1940, aged 20. Their mother, Ambulance Sister Emily Mary Jepp of the Dar es Salaam and Guildford No. 2 Section St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, died on 8th July 1940. They are both buried with P/O. Jepp in Farnham Civil Cemetery.
Researched by Jeremy Nicholson for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to relatives of the crew. With thanks to Kerrie Wheaton (née Arnold) for further information on her Grandad, Sgt. Jack Gilbert Arnold which she sent in February 2016.