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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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57 Squadron Crest
16.03.1942 57 Squadron Wellington III X3599 Fg Off. Hunter

Operation: Cross Country

Date: 16th March 1942 (Monday)

Unit No: 57 Squadron. 3 Group (motto: Corpus non animum muto - I change my body not my spirit)

Type: Wellington III

Serial: X3599

Code: DX:?

Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk

Location: Slieve Donard Mountain, Ireland

Pilot: Fg Off. Harold Eric Hunter 4092060 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

Obs: Fg Off. John William Elliott J5318 RCAF Age 26. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Swordy Taylor 1381318 RAFVR Age 28. Killed


Flt Lt. Hugh Larmour Magee 81690 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Sgt. W.L. Henderson 646329 RAFVR Age? Injured

Assistant Section Officer (ASO): Barbara 'Patsy' Kathleen Blakiston-Houston 1696 WAAF Age 24. Killed

Reverend: James Dawson Crawford Age 40. Killed


It has been very difficult to establish who had been on this Wellington when it crashed. Some publications have quoted other names but with the assistance from Alien Eyes from WW2 Talk Forum we think that we have it right.

Taking off from RAF Feltwell in Norfolk at 10:45 hrs. to Aldergrove in Northern Ireland. The trip was primarily a navigation exercise but was used to drop off some passengers.

They encountered heavy fog on the way over and so reduced height to 800 ft. As they approached the coast of Ireland the pilot started to climb to avoid the hilly terrain, however visibility was very poor.

At 12:30 hrs the Wellington crashed into the hill in the area shown on the map. All but the rear gunner were killed.

The following was the reported content of the statement by Sgt. Henderson on the morning of 18th March 1942 who was in the 25th General Hospital, Bangor.

"The Wellington, piloted by Fg Off. Hunter, left England and crossed the English coast at a height of 5,000 feet but encountered heavy fog which forced them down until they were flying at a height of 800 feet. The air was clear from sea level to 800 feet, They continued the rest of the journey below the fog until they approached the Irish coast. The Pilot then began to climb into the fog to clear the highland. It was while climbing through the fog with both engines running normal that the aircraft flew into the hillside. The crash was extremely violent and the Sergeant who occupied the rear turret, acting as rear gunner, although badly knocked about, was able to break clear: almost immediately the machine burst into flames. He saw nothing of the other occupants and knows nothing of them, but is convinced that they were all killed at the moment of impact. They all occupied the forward end of the fuselage".

The cause of the accident at the court of enquiry stated that the crew were sound and experienced and due to the very poor weather conditions.

Burial details:

Fg Off. Harold Eric Hunter. Belfast City Cemetery. Glenalina Extn. Sec. A.S. Grave 127. Born on the 23rd March 1916 at West Malton, the son of Eric Douglas and Rose Amelia Hunter (née Watson), and husband of Maire Ethel Hunter (née Fear), father of Jill, of Heathcote Valley, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Prior to service worked as a clerk for Mt. Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Company. A total of 405 flying hours logged and completed 17 operational sorties.

Fg Off. John William Elliott. Belfast City Cemetery. Glenalina Extn. Sec. A.S. Grave 128. Born on the 11th July 1915 in Toronto, Ontario. Son of John William and Ida May (née Wright) Elliott of Toronto, Ontario. Husband to Margaret Wilson (née Warwick) Elliott of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Swordy Taylor. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Cemetery (Byker And Heaton). Sec. 2. Grave 326. He was Born on the 3rd October 1914 in Newcastle upon Tyne, the youngest of 4 children. His parents were John Taylor a miner born 1870 in Lucker Northumberland and Alice Jane Swordy of Shilbottle Northumberland. His wife was Audrey Stewart also of Newcastle. In the 1939 Register he was a Clerk in the local Rating Department, they were married on 7th October 1941 and had no children.

Flt Lt. Hugh Larmour Magee. Carrickfergus Cemetery (Victoria). Sec. D. Grave 174. Son of Edward and Jane Magee, of Finaghy, Belfast, Northern Ireland. B.A. (Dublin): Trinity College.

Above: Notification for ASO: Blakiston-Houston

Barbara 'Patsy' Kathleen Blakiston-Houston. Loughinisland Church Of Ireland Churchyard (St. John). Grave 166. Born on the 24th November 1917. Daughter Lt Col. James Edward and Dorothy Irene (née Rea) Blakiston-Houston, of Killyleagh, County Down, Northern Ireland.

It is believed that Barbara was the daughter of the Chief Constable of the Home Guard of Northern Ireland.

Above Rev. James Dawson Crawford: Cutting from the Belfast Telegraph dated 19th March 1942. (Courtesy of Nigel Henderson)

Reverend: James Dawson Crawford. Belfast City Cemetery. Born in 3rd Qtr 1901 in Belfast, Antrim, Northern Island. Son Joseph Henry and Eleanor Jane (née Tate) Crawford, of Drum, Newbliss, County Monaghan, Irish Republic and husband of E.E. Crawford.

With thanks to Alien Eyes from WW2 Talk Forum, Charles McRobert for photograph of the crash area. Thanks to Ian Briggs for the NoK details for Sgt. Taylor. Thanks to Nigel Henderson (Researcher, History Hub Ulster) for the cutting regarding Re. Henderson (Jan 2022). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022). Thanks to Jill Rivers for the information about the family of Barbara Blakiston-Houston (Nov 2023)

Other sources listed below:

RS 11.01.2022 - Addition of clipping and other narrative additions.

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