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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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RAF Acklington Crest
17.08.1939 No.2 Air Observers School Fairey Seal K3579 Flt.Lt. James M. Bodman

Operation: Training

Date: 17th August 1939 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 2 Air Observers School

Type: Fairey Seal Mk. I

Serial: K3579 / K4783

Base: RAF Acklington, Northumberland

Location: Beal, Northumberland

Pilot K3579: Flt.Lt. James Mail Bodman 39649 RAF Age 24. Not injured (1)

U/T K3579: Cpl. John Prudhoe 515485 RAF Age 27. Killed

Pilot K4783: Plt.Off. Patrick Chaloner Lindsey 41036 RAF Age ? Injured

U/T K4783: AC1. William Fletcher 533543 RAF Age ? Not injured

U/T K4783: AC1. Alexander Armour 532586 RAF Not injured

REASON FOR LOSS:

During a five aircraft formation exercise two aircraft collided at about 1,500 ft. - it is known that Flt.Lt. Bodman (1) baled out with no problems, but it is thought that Cpl. John Prudhoe either became unconscious during his evacuation from the aircraft or that he was to low for the parachute to open. He was discovered on the ground with an unopened parachute. The pilot of the other aircraft involved, Plt.Off. Lindsey flying K4783 managed to land his aircraft despite damage to the tail. He broke his leg, thought during the landing whilst the two crew under training escaped unhurt.

Photograph of what is believed to be the wreckage of Fairy Seal K3579 with possibly K3535 in the background (Courtesy of Stuart Collingwood)

The above three photographs depict the crashed Fairy Seal K4783 (Courtesy of Stuart Collingwood)

Extract from the Western Morning News Saturday 19th August 1939:

RAF Formation Flight Crash. One killed - Corporal Leaps To His Death - Crashed near Beal.

A 27-year-old RAF corporal, who was to have been married in December, was killed yesterday after two of five planes in a formation flight near Beal, Northumberland, had collided in the air. He was Cpl. John Prudhoe, who leaped from one of the planes and was found dead near an unopened parachute. The pilot, Flt.Lt. James Mail Bodman, who also jumped parachute, was uninjured. The plane crashed in flames. Plt.Off. Patrick Chaloner Lindsey, pilot of the second plane, the tail of which had been damaged in the collision, landed his machine. His leg was broken. The two other occupants of the plane, AC1s William Fletcher and Alexander Armour were uninjured. Sqn.Ldr. Horace J.L. Hawkins, who was in charge of the flight and in whose machine was Dr. Laurence Vincent McNabb of Amble, medical officer for Acklington Aerodrome, landed to render assistance, but his plane was damaged, while the fourth plane in the flight piloted by Plt.Off. Roberts, flew to the aerodrome to report the accident.

(1) Flt.Lt. James M. Bodman MiD, retired from the RAF in 1948 as Wing Commander. He also had another lucky escape with 127 Squadron flying Hurricane V7370 (research continues)

Notes: Fairey Seal: Crew 3, Powered by 1 x Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIA radial piston engine, 525 hp (392 kW) - Max speed - 138 mph, Service ceiling - 17,000 ft.

Burial details:

Cpl. John Prudhoe. Burial details not known. Born in 1912 in Chester le Street, Durham. Son of Robert and Mary Ann (née Ellison) Prudhoe of Washington, Durham, England. John was the youngest of four brothers.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to RAF Commands Forum for detailed information. In particular to Ross McNeill, Paul McMillan. Aircrew Remembered are in contact with the daughter of Wg.Cdr. Bodman and we hope that we will be able to place a page to him over the coming months.

Thanks to Stuart Collingwood who kindly provided the images of the crashed aircraft from his father’s (R. H. Collingwood, RAF) photo collection.

RS 26.02.2020 - Update to include images of crashed aircraft and NoK details

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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