23.01.1939 No 10 (Bomber) Squadron Whitworth Whitley I K7211 P/O. Frederick William Miller
Operation: Night navigation training exercise
Date: 23 January 1939 (Monday)
Unit: No 10 (Bomber) Squadron
Type: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley I
Base: RAF Dishforth, North Yorkshire
Location: English Channel, approx. 4 miles off Selsey Bill, West Sussex
Pilot: P/O. Frederick William Miller Serial no? RAF Age? Killed (1)
2nd Pilot: P/O. Allan Frederick William Miles Serial no? RAF Age 21 Killed (2)
Nav: Sgt. Horace Cutts 565374 RAF Age 25 Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: AC1 Harry Thompson 551576 RAF Age 19 Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC1 Ralph Levery 522745 RAF Age 31 Killed (5)
Air/Gnr: AC1 John Robert Hanley 523936 RAF Age? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
The aircraft took off at from RAF Dishforth for a night navigational exercise. The aircraft was last heard on wireless transmitter at 18.20hrs when its position was given as between Manston and St. Catherine’s Point. It was last seen over Spithead. A strong north-westerly wind approaching gale force, blew in the Channel during the night. No trace of the aircraft and its crew was ever found. RAF planes and 4 destroyers searched the channel for the plane reported to have crashed four miles off Selsey Bill, Sussex. The Selsey lifeboat also took part in the search. Coast guard stations on the South Coast co-operated in the search and all ships in the vicinity had been warned to keep a look out for the missing plane and crew
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley MkI (courtesy Australian War Memorial)
Map showing the area of the crash off Selsey Bill, West Sussex
The search was called off a few days later and a notification on February 2, 1939 by the ‘Air Ministry regrets to announce the following deaths:- With reference to the disappearance on January 23 of No 10 (Bomber) Squadron, Dishforth, Yorkshire extensive searches having failed to find the aircraft and its occupants, it must now be accepted that the personnel lost their lives on that date’
A memorial service for the crew was held in Ripon Cathedral on Sunday, February 5, 1939 (cutting from the Yorkshire Post Monday February 5, 1939
(Courtesy British Newspaper Archive)
About 150 representatives from the Dishforth station attended the service.
The chief officers present included:- Air Commodore C H B Blount, Group Captain E G Hopcraft, Wing Commander W E Station, Squadron Leader G H Huxham, Squadron Leader F A J Pollock-Gorr, Flight Lieutenant H J Forsier 9Adjutant, Major J P Huffam, Flying Officers A P G Hyde, J B Tatt, R Bickford, A A N Breckon, A S Philips, G L C Bagshaw, J W Allsop. Pilot Officers M T G Heavy, R H Kewish, L N W Parkin, D A Willis
Relatives of members of the crew were also present. Trumpeters of the RAF sounded the Last Post and Reveille, and the National Anthem was sung.
The Precentor Rev, H R Williams read the Lesson, and the Archdeacon of Richmond the Ven. C C Thornton gave the address. The Rev. J H S Bailey Vicar of Kirby Hill, and chaplain was also present
The crew have no known graves
P/O. Frederick William Miller. No information about next of kin. Can you assist? (1) Granted short service commission as Acting Pilot Officer on probation with effect 31 January 1937 and was confirmed in this appointment as Pilot Officer 28 December 1938. Frederick William Miller had trained at Yatesbury flying school and 6 Flying Training School, RAF Finningley, South Yorkshire where he gained his Flying Badge on 22nd May 1937. He was a very experienced pilot with 296 hours flying Whitley’s and 406hrs flying hours in total.
Left: Manchester Evening News, Saturday Janruary 28, 1939 (courtesy British Newspaper Archive) Right: Memorial stone for P/O. Miles at the Garrison Church, Old Portsmouth (courtesy Robert Hind)
P/O. Allan Frederick William Miles. Son of Lieutenant Colonel William George Hilary Miles (late of the Royal Marines) and Fanny Jane Miles of Queen's Gate, Southsea, Hampshire. (2) Allan Frederick William Miles had served with No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron in July 1937 and was granted a short service commission as Acting Pilot Officer 19 February 1938 and confirmed in this appointment as Pilot Officer 17 January 1939. Allan is remembered in the Garrison Church, Old Portsmouth
Sgt. Horace Cutts. Husband of Amy Cutts of West Street, Hoyland near Barnsley, Yorkshire. (3) Horace was educated at Barnsley Grammar School and joined the RAF just after leaving school. Horace is remembered on the Royston War Memorial, Barnsley
AC1 Harry Thompson. Son of Harry Thompson of Beresford Road, Blackburn, Lancaster. (4) Educated at St James's Blackburn and Blackburn Technical College. After leaving school he was an apprentice joiner and had just been promoted to Corporal
AC1 Ralph Levery. Husband of Leonora of Mid-Street, Kells, Whitehaven, Cumberland. (5) Ralph is remembered on the St. Begh War Memorial, Whitehaven
AC1 John Robert Hanley. No information about next of kin. Can you assist?
Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Robert Hind - Portsmouth Evening News for bringing this loss to our attention