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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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Fighter Command
56 OTU Typhoon Ib MN532 F/O. Robert Samuel Bellis

Operation: Training

Date: 27th March 1945 (Monday)

Unit: No. 56 Operational Training Unit (motto: 'Prelude To Proficiency')

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: MN532

Code: -

Base: RAF Milfield, Northumberland

Location: Stoney Hill, Ayrshire

Pilot: F/O. Robert Samuel Bellis J/44062 RCAF Age 20. Killed


Statement of Sq/Ldr. Donald Masters Brown:

'I am the medical officer at Royal Air Force Station, Prestwick. On the 30th March, 1945, at about 19:00 hrs, the Station Duty Officer informed me that the wreck of an aircraft had been reported on the hills some miles inland, that no sign of life had been observed, but that an ambulance and a medical Officer were required to go out with the search party. Being the only Medical Officer at this Station, it was necessary for me to arrange for a stand-by medical and ambulance service, while I was away and this was undertaken by the American Dispensary. I also informed Flying Control of this arrangement. I left this Station, in the ambulance about 19:30 hrs, meeting the remainder of the party at Lugar Police Station, where we were informed information would be available as to the site of the wreck.

We took the ambulance as far as we could, continuing the journey in light van, until a point beyond which it-was impossible for any vehicle to proceed was reached, and there we were met by a shepherd who was acting as guide.

He informed us that he believed that the wreck was lying on Stony Mountain, but that the shepherd who had seen it was at the next cottage, some two miles further on. One of the party, a driver who knew this country well, went forward to find this shepherd and the remainder of us egan to climb. The going was both difficult and dangerous, particularly is stretchers were being carried along narrow sheep tracks along the sides of ravines.

It was about midnight when we were joined by the shepherd who had first reported the wreck and almost at the same time we reached it. The aircraft was fragmented into tiny pieces spread over a wide area, and in the dark the Technical Officer was unable to identify the type, and could give me no help as to the number of occupants the aircraft had been carrying.

I made a search and it was obvious that there was no possibility of there being any living survivors of this wreck. I found some of the remains of one body, but decided that in view of the possibility of there being further bodies, needing a careful search in daylight and in view of the dangerous nature of the country, no attempt could be made'.

Conclusion of the accident:

P/O. Bellis took off on a cross country Milfield-Alionby-Oarluke-Milfleld at 09:59 on 27th March 1945 and crashed probably between 10:30 and 11:00 hrs on the same day, in a position 91/2 miles S.E. of Lugar in Ayrshire. He arrived over Allonby at 10:19 and informed Milfield. He then set course for Carluke. The last message received fron him was at 10:25 hrs. and after that time all efforts from the ground and from an aircraft failed to contact him. It is certain that all the hill tops in the vicinity of the crash were covered by cloud.

Since no engine failure is suspected the primary cause of the accident was disobedience of briefing orders in that he descended below 8,000' instead of returning to base in the event of bad weather. The secondary cause was striking a hill top due to low cloud.

P/O. Fraser who took off about 15 minutes after Bellis on the same exercise turned back over Solway Firth due to 10/10 stratus cloud from 500-600' and returned via Carlisle to make good his cross-country. It is almost certain that Newcastle ROCLO report of sighting a Typhoon at 11:00 hrs. heading towards Carlisle referred to Fraser and it is possible that their 10:37 hrs. sighting did too. P/O. Bellis obviously made the old mistake of descending through cloud to see where he was - in rank disobedience of his briefing orders. The fault was entirely his.

I am satisfied that the briefing was sound but I think the R/T facilities in this area should be stressed and pupils made to realise that below 4000', when in 13 Group area, they will be unable to contact anyone. Perhaps this might discourage them from knowing better than their briefing orders.

Burial details:

Body not discovered until the 30th March 1945. Buried on the 03rd April 1945. Another fatal accident from 56 OTU that occurred on the 27th March involved P/O. George Allan Sullivan J/44046 RCAF. He was buried at the same time.

F/O. Robert Samuel Bellis. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. G. Row J. Grave 13. Born on the 30th July 1924 in Ontario, Canada but with British nationality. Educated at Williamstown High School in Ontario. Enlisted on the 07th April 1943.

Son of Edward Parry Bellis (died December 1956, age 81) and Mary Hannah Bellis (née Smith - died 27th March 1972, age 92), of Lancaster, Ontario, Canada - parents originally from England) Brother of Alice Jane (died 07th November 1997, age 91), William Edward (died 03rd July 2002, age 94, Emily Louise (died 1922, age 13 months), Mary Margaret (died 17th July 1995, age of 85), Dorothy Ruth (died 29th October 2002, age 90) and Mabel Catherine (died 15th March 1982, age 67).

Epitaph: 'In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Son And Brother. Mother, Dad, Sisters And Brother In Canada'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the National Archive. Kew, Government of Canada, Peak District Air Accident Research, Paradie RCAF Archives.

Pages regarding 1945 Losses
Pages detailing RCAF Losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 02-07-2023

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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