08.03.1942 No. 14 OTU Hampden I L4110 Sgt. John Franklin MacPhail
Date: 8 March 1942
Unit: No. 15 Operational Training Unit
Type: Handley Page Hampden I
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Cottesmore, Rutland
Location: 2 miles North West of Cottesmore Satellite Aerodrome, Rutland
Pilot: Sgt. John Franklin MacPhail R/91524 RCAF Age 22 - Killed (1)
A/Obs: Sgt. Ernest Roy Lumsdaine Aus/402372 RAAF Age 24 - Slightly injured (2)
A/Obs: Sgt. Frank Wellington Aus/404436 RAAF Age 22 - Slightly injured (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Allan Harold Hanson Aus/414584 RAAF Age 27 - Killed (4)
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The following account of the accident has been compiled from Bomber Command Losses Volume 7 - W.R. Chorley, Form 412, Proceedings of Court of Enquiry or Investigation and the report of the Commanding Officer of No. 14 Operational Training Unit at RAF Cottesmore, Group Captain (Later Air Vice Marshall) Alan Patrick Ritchie AFC, Commanding Officer of 14 OTU RAF Cottesmore and dated 17 March 1942.
REASON FOR LOSS
On 8 March 1942 Canadian Sgt. John MacPhail and his all Australian crew were ordered by P/O. Hodgkinson to make a high level night bombing training flight. No occupant of the aircraft was instructing the other nor were any specific instructions given.
Hampden L4110 piloted by John MacPhail took off from RAF Cottesmore at 19:15 hours in good weather. The pilot had a total of 42.05 hours solo on Hampdens including 7.25 hours night flying.
Some two and a half hours after take off the aircraft returned to RAF Cottesmore, made a circuit of the aerodrome and having been given permission to do so the pilot was getting into a position to land when at 22.04 he crashed, killing himself and the rear gunner Allan Hanson who had sustained a fractured skull.
The weather at the time of the crash was also recorded as good.
According to statements by the surviving members of the crew, observers Roy Lumsdaine and Frank Wellington, all appeared to be going well when the port wing dropped. The pilot at once put the stick forward and opened the throttles, but just as the aeroplane was flying level, the wheels struck the ground and the aeroplane turned over on its back.
W.R. Chorley adds that: on impact the nose compartment was shattered after which the the bomber flipped over, the engine mountings and wings being sheared off.
Although Roy and Frank survived the crash they were both trapped in the aircraft and only the prompt action of farm labourer, Arthur Dunham, in putting out a small fire in one of the engines, undoubtedly resulted in the saving of their lives as it was some time afterwards before they could be released from the aircraft.
Ernest and Frank had fortunately suffered only slight injuries and were taken to RAF Hospital Rauceby for treatment.
The aircraft and flying instruments were later examined by the Accidents Investigation Branch and no defect whatsoever was found.
The report by the Commanding Officer of RAF Cottesmore Group Captain A.P. Ritchie stated that:
From these facts it appears that the pilot, perhaps through over-concentrating on the flarepath and neglecting his instruments allowed the aeroplane to stall and then, realising that his airspeed was much too low, put the control column forward opened the throttles to gain flying speed. However, just as he was levelling out the wheels struck the ground and the port oleo gave way and the machine turned over on its back, after running for some two hundred yards. Cuts on the ground by the propellers indicated that both engines were running under power until the time the aeroplane turned over on its back.
This accident can be attributed to the pilot's inexperience in night flying, and it cannot be too strongly emphasised that for pilots whose training is leading to night operations, a sound basic training in night flying is essential.
On the recommendation of Group Captain Ritchie, Arthur Dunham received the following commendation from the King on 19 June 1942 and published in the London Gazette of the same date.
The individual named below has been Commended for brave conduct when rescuing the crew of a crashed and burning aircraft: — Arthur Dunham, Farm Labourer, Great Ponton Heath, Lincolnshire.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) Sgt. John Franklin MacPhail was born on 31 December 1919 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada the son of John Alexander MacPhail (a Train Baggage-man for Canadian Pacific Railways) and Ethel Bridget MacPhail nee Gaughan of 163 Chestnut Street, Winnipeg.
He was educated in Winnipeg at the Victoria-Albert School (1925-1931) Hugh John MacDonald School (1931-1933) Gordon Bell School (1933-1937) and Angus Business College for 6 months studying Business Administration. After leaving school he was employed by The Trusts and Guarantee Co. Ltd of Winnipeg as a Clerk and Ledger Keeper from 1938 until enlisting in the RCAF in 1941.
He played basketball extensively as well as participating in hockey, golf, football, tennis, track, swimming and skiing moderately.
When he enlisted at Winnipeg on 16 January 1941 he was 5' 7¼" tall, weighing 132 lbs with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.
After training at No. 1 Air Navigation School at RCAF Rivers Manitoba, No. 2 Initial Training School at RCAF Regina, No. 6 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Prince Albert and No. 4 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Saskatoon (all Saskatchewan) he was awarded his Flying Badge and promoted to Sergeant. On 28 September he embarked for the UK and after a posting to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth he was posted to No. 14 Operational Training Unit at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland on 29 October 1941.
In 1995 the Province of Manitoba commemorated his memory by the naming of MacPhail Lake
(2) Sgt. Ernest Roy Lumsdaine was born on 8 January 1918 at Meppershall, Bedfordshire the son of 6812 Lance Corporal Russell Robberds Lumsdaine of 1 Division Signal Company AIF, and Rose Victoria (nee Taylor), a Meppershall girl whom he had married during the war. Russell Lumsdaine left England for Australia, with his wife and son, on 12 July 1919 aboard the SS Indarra and settled on the outskirts of Sydney.
In 1930 Roy Lumsdaine was the recipient of one of two scholarships awarded for that year by the Board of Control of the Bathurst Soldiers and Sailors War Memorial Scholaship Fund. The scholarships were tenable at the Bathurst High School and were for a period of three years, a grant of £20 per annum being allowed to each scholarship holder.
After completing his schooling, Roy Lumsdaine worked in a brick factory and then as a wool presser in Bathurst, NSW. An accomplished and well known local cricketer he also played Rugby Union for Manly.
He enlisted in the RAAF on 19 August 1940 at Sydney, NSW and was almost immediately chosen by the selectors to play for a strong RAAF Rugby XV against the second Metropolitan team at North Sydney Oval on Saturday 7 September 1940.
His initial training took place at Bradfield Park, NSW, and after completing his basic aircrew training in early October, Lumsdaine embarked from Sydney in early November.
He arrived in Durban, South Africa, on 10 December 1940 and proceeded to Rhodesia where he trained as an observer. He completed this course in February 1941 and was posted to Queenstown, South Africa, to train as a navigator. During the course, he was promoted to sergeant. On completion of his training in October 1941 he was sent to England where he was posted to No. 14 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland.
Having survived the crash of 8 March 1942 with minor injuries, he soon returned to duty and on 23 December 1942 was promoted to Warrant Officer.
On Saturday 6 February 1943 Roy was selected to play for the RAAF against New Zealand Combined Services in the first iner-Dominion rugby union match since the outbreak of the war. Played at Old Deer Park, Richmond, London the RAAF were defeated by 8 points to 5.
On 27 June 1943, he was briefly posted to No. 16 OTU for two days before being posted to No. 13 OTU at RAF Hinton-in-the-Hedges Oxfordshire where he became a navigator in Mosquito aircraft. On 6 December 1943, he was posted to No. 464 Squadron as a navigator.
During a training flight at RAF Chipping Warden aerodrome, on 6 January 1944, he was the navigator of Mosquito LR259 piloted by F/Sgt. Kenneth Royce Russell NZ415023 RNZAF. Making a low pass over the airfield the pilot misjudged his pass and the Mosquito came into contact with the ground before crashing into a nearby hangar, killing himself and Ernest Lumsdaine. Ernest Roy Lumsdaine was laid to rest with full military honours on 12 January 1944 at the Oxford RAF cemetery in North Hinksey, Berkshire. To read the story of this loss please click here
He is commemorated on Panel No. 109 of the Australian War Memorial at Canberra, The Manly War Memorial NSW and Meppershall St. Mary's Church War Memorial, Bedfordshire, England
(3) Sgt. Frank Wellington was born on 24 October 1919 at Charters Towers Queensland. Enlisted at Brisbane date not known NOK May Wellington.
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(4) Sgt. Allan Harold Hanson was born on 31 August 1914 at Ayr, Queensland, Australia the son of Swedish born father Hans Victor Hanson and Australian mother Annie Victoria Hanson nee Stager of Ayr, Queensland. He had seven siblings: Esther Victoria May Hanson (1907-1996), Mary Lucy Hanson (1909-1993, Charles Victor Hanson (1912-1969), Edna Annie Hanson (1917-2013), Doris Ethel Hanson (1919-2010), Albert George Hanson born 1922 and Ian Maurice Hanson (1924-1997).
He was educated at Rural School, Home Hill, Queensland to June 1928 and at Townsville Grammar School, Queensland July 1928 to June 1930. After leaving school he worked as a Sugar Cane Farmer until enlisting in the RAAF. He engaged in football, tennis and swimming and gained pilot's licence at the Royal Queensland Flying Club. By October 1940 he had flown 17 hours 10 minutes dual and 50 hours 40 minutes solo.
On 7 September 1935 he had married Grace Margaret Jones and their son Alan James Hanson was born the following year. The family lived at Home Hill.
When he enlisted at Brisbane on 11 October 1940 he was described as being 6' tall weighing 176 lbs with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and fair hair
He was posted for basic training to No. 2 Initial Training School at RAAF Bradfield Park, New South Wales on 14 October and on 21 November 1940 embarked at Sydney for Canada. In Canada he trained at No. 2 Wireless School, at RCAF Calgary, Alberta where he was awarded his Wireless Operator's Badge on 23 May 1941. He was then posted to No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mossbank, Saskatchewan where on 23 June he received his Air Gunners Badge, was promoted to Sergeant and was re-mustered as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.
Having embarked for the UK on 1 July 1941 he was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth on 20 July followed on 2 August by a posting to No. 2 Signal School at RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire and on 14 October to No. 14 Operational Training Unit at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland.
He is commemorated on Panel 123 of the Australian War Memorial at Canberra and on the Ayr War Memorial Queensland.
BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS
(1) Sgt. John Franklin MacPhail was buried at Cottesmore (St. Nicholas) Churchyard Extension, Rutland - Compartment 11. Grave No. 3
His epitaph reads
Are a treasure
(4) Sgt. Allan Harold Hanson was buried at 2.30 p.m. on Thursday 12 March 1942 at Cottesmore (St. Nicholas) Churchyard Extension, Rutland - Compartment 11 - Grave No. 2
His epitaph reads
Hath no man than this
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2018
With thanks to the sources quoted below.