04.03.1941 N. 151 Squadron Defiant N1794 F/O. Peter L. Gordon-Dean
Date: 04th March 1941 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 151 Squadron
Type: Defiant I
Serial: N1794 (1)
Base: RAF Wittering
Location: Near Ketton, Rutlandshire.
Pilot: F/O. Peter Lee Gordon-Dean 33436 RAF Age 21. Killed (2)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Edward Worledge 1376105 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 15:20 hrs on air gunner experience flight. After some 20 minutes the aircraft emerged from clouds at high speed with parts falling from the Defiant. No eye witnesses of manoeuvres before the failure occurred. The aircraft crashed at about 15:47 hrs - killing both crew members.
Built by Bolton Paul Aircraft Ltd being placed into service on the 18th October 1940. Total flying time recorded as just over 30 hours. A 30 hour inspection had been carried out on the 01st March 1941 with a further routine inspection carried out the morning of the loss.
Weather details: Visibility 4,000 yards with light variable wind, 6/10th cloud at 2,500 ft, large cumulous with trace of low cloud at 1,000 ft.
Pilot details: F/O. Gordon-Dean total flying hours logged at 320 hours. Had a total of 100 hours in twin engined aircraft by day with 21 hours by night. 46 hours experience in this type by day, 4 hours by night. It was recorded that he had the reputation of flying the Defiant as a single seater fighter.
Further notes: The previous day, with another experienced air gunner (not on this aircraft), the pilot had placed his aircraft into a steep dive from which it recovered in an unusual attitude. The pilot had mentioned to that air gunner that he had intended to do some flick rolls. He did not make any such remarks on the day of the loss.
The main wreckage had fallen into a swamp about 3/4 mile west north west of Wittering. The fuselage and engine had dug a deep pit which immediately flooded. The engine and parts attached were never recovered. Further small pieces of the aircraft were distributed over a wide area.
The starboard main plane had become detached in the air and several parts were found at the following distances from the main impact area:
500 Yards - Top skin of the aircraft complete from root rib to first rib.
400 Yards - Front spar from wing tip to landing-light recess, the major part of the skin was attached to this spar.
250 Yards - Aileron and wing tip.
Conclusion: 'The accident was due to structural failure which occurred when the aircraft was being highly stressed by some aerobatic manoeuvre. Recommended that the strength of bracing may be greatly increased by improving the design of the end of the rib bracing tubes and as these members appear to be the weakest point in the aircraft, some modification is desirable. The report was submitted on the 04th October 1941 explaining the delay was due to the length of time carrying out extensive tests. Signed by Gp/Cpt. Vernon Brown, Chief Inspector, Accidents Investigation Brnc, Gloucester.'
(1) Interesting in that other websites list N1749, as listed by the N/A (see left) as being lost off Nairn, Scotland on the 27th January 1943. Crew rescued by the RNLI, aircraft lost. Our details originate from the National Archives at Kew, England and a report made by the Accident Investigation Branch of the RAF, it seems that maybe the incorrect number was recorded by the AIB!
(2) His brother-in-law 33 year old, P/O. Harold George Pete Mounsey 148050 RAFVR was killed later on the 01st September 1943. Flying as an Air Bomber with 214 Squadron when lost on an operation to Berlin. Stirling III EE959 BU-E shot down by a night fighter - 4 crew killed, 3 PoW. (1 of 3 lost from the squadron on this operation)
(3) It is understood that volunteers from Sywell aerodrome
applied and were granted an excavation of the crash site in 2006 from the MOD, following permission being granted from the land owners ‘Castle Cement’. They then opened an exhibition (shown right
) at the aerodrome of the pieces recovered in 2009 opened by the niece of the air gunner. You can contact them via the link placed.
F/O. Peter Lee Gordon-Dean. Winslow Churchyard (St. Lawrence). Son of Air Commodore H. Gordon-Dean, AFC, and Helen Gordon-Dean, of Winslow, Buckinghamshire, England.
Sgt. George Edward Worledge. Twickenham Cemetery. Plot N. Row L. Class C. Grave 17. Son of John Rossitter Worledge and Edith Violet Worledge, husband of Winifred Margaret Worledge, of Twickenham, Middlesex, England.
(2) P/O. Harold George Pete Mounsey. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. grave 5.F.24-29. Son of Oswold Robart Mounsey and Margaret Caroline Mounsey, husband of Margaret Anne Mousey. Remembered also on the headstone base of F/O. Gordon-Dean (as shown below).
Researched by Chris Bowles and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Lynn Sharpe and Amanda West for grave photographs. Also to National Archives, Kew, England for detailed loss report. Sywell aerodrome
. Other sources as quoted below.