31.07.1948 502 (Ulster) RAuxAF, Squadron Mosquito T.III TV982, Plt II. Josiah Campbell
Operation: Return to Base
Date: 31st July 1948 (Saturday)
Unit: 502 (Ulster) Squadron, RAuxAF
Type: Mosquito T.III
Base: RAF Aldergrove, County Antrim, Ireland
Location: Cwm Llan, on the south side of Snowdon
Pilot: Pilot II. Josiah Campbell 2681060 RAuxAF Age 25. Killed
Passenger: Cpl. Charles Edward Walker 966676 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Above: Cpl. Walker (Courtesy of Simon Downe)
The chevrons on his right sleeve are "Service Chevrons". They are embroidered red on an RAF blue background, worn on the lower right sleeve of the service dress jacket and battledress blouse. One for each year of service, after 3rd September 1939, up to a maximum of six.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the 16th July 1948 an advanced party from 502 (Ulster) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) of one Oxford and three Mosquitos took off from RAF Aldergrove fin Ireland or their annual summer camp at RAF Horsham St. Faith in Norwich. The main party left by road the next day and arrived on the 18th July followed by a rear party. Additionally three Oxfords and six Mosquitos were flown to RAF Horsham St. Faith to complete the detachment.
At the end of the two week detachment the contingent of men and aircraft returned to RAF Aldergrove commencing on the 29th July with the aircraft returning on the 31st July and the 1st of August 1948.
Mosquito T.III TV982, flown by Plt II. (equates to Fg Off) Campbell with Cpl. Walker as a passenger, took off from RAF Horsham St. Faith on the 31st July and set course for RAF Aldergrove. The aircraft failed to arrive.
A Court of Enquiry into the crash was held on the 9th August 1948 at Llanbdr in Wales.
It was estimated that the aircraft was flying at around 4,500 feet, which would have been a relatively safe height had it not been for the appalling weather conditions. At around 14:25 hrs the aircraft entered the thick black cloud that was lurking over Snowdonia. Almost five minutes had elapsed when a terrific burst of lightning struck the aircraft and parts of it flew off as the wooden structure began to fall from the sky.
The aircraft had broken up in the cloud and had fallen to earth in pieces into a hollow around 1,000 feet from the 3,500-foot peak, hitting the south side of the mountain in a ball of flame killing both airmen instantly.
The explosion was heard by many climbers and fell walkers, including a Mr. Paul Orkney Work, owner of the Hospice and Climbers resort, Sygun Fawr, who, on hearing the explosion, fixed the location of the crash by sound and set off on his motorcycle up the Sir Watkin Path as far as he could go. He then left his machine to continue on foot through driving rain and hail. On his way to the scene of the crash he was joined by others who had been on Snowdon at the time of the accident.
A search party was organised and the group scoured the moorland for almost an hour before a shout from one of the party brought the search to an end. Both the crew were found dead. One of the climbers on the mountain, Miss Muriel Rushworth of Shrewsbury, said, “I saw parts of the plane break off as it dived down into the thick clouds which surrounded the summit.”
Wreckage of the Mosquito which still remain at the crash site (Courtesy of Simon Downe)
Shattered Merlin (Courtesy of Simon Downe)
An RAF Mountain Rescue team from Llanbedr arrived at the crash site in the early evening and found the two crew lying fifteen yards apart at a place known locally as Cwm Llan. They were loaded onto stretchers and brought down down to Portmadoc by late Saturday night through treacherous and hail and over hazardous mountain slopes.
Plt II. Josiah Campbell. He was buried on the 4th August 1948 in the Belfast City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension E1 96. He was living at 24 Woodvale Parade, Belfast, Ireland.
The following information has not been corroborated: He was possibly born in Milngavie, Scotland circa 1925. Believed to be the husband of Jane (née Martin) Campbell of Belfast, Ireland.
Cpl. Charles Edward Walker. He was buried on the 4th August 1948 in the Christ Church Cemetery, Londonderry, Ireland
The following information has not been corroborated: Possibly born on the 5th January 1920 in Rathdrum, Ireland.
Researched by Ralph Snape from Aircrew Remembered and Simon Downe, on behalf of Cpl. Walker’s family, and dedicated to the relatives of the crew.