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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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279 Squadron Warwick B(ASR).I BV233 F/O. Harvey Samuel Luck

Operation: Training

Date: 07th January 1945 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 279 Squadron. 18 Group. (motto: 'To See and be Seen'). Coastal Command

Type: Warwick B(ASR).I

Serial: BV233

Code: RL-J

Base: RAF Thornaby, Yorkshire

Location: Dinsdale, Yorkshire

Pilot: F/O. Harvey Samuel Luck J/21832 RCAF Age 32. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Ronald Cooper 124716 RAFVR Age? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Desmond Charles Holland NZ/427478 RNZAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Frederick Watson Ritchie NZ/425506 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Percy Woolfield NZ/427509 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Wiles 1596909 RAFVR Age? Killed


Weather, Fine. Visibility - 12 miles. Cloud 3/10 at 2.500ft. Surface Wind N.W. 18mph.

Taking off at 10:50 hrs on a local homing and dummy flare dropping exercise. Shortly after 13:10 hrs they were 'attacked' by two Hurricanes from the squadron over County Durham. They were carrying out formation flying in the area. The Warwick took evasive action, but during a second attack over Dinsdale, 31 miles SE of Darlington, it dived vertically into the ground from 500 feet, apparently as the result of a high-speed stall. All six crew died.

Board of enquiry report:

On January 7th 1945, F/O. Luck and crew were ordered by their Flight Commander (Witness No.A to carry out dummy flare dropping and local homing procedure in Warwick BV.233. The aircraft took off at 10:50 hrs. and carried out their duty as ordered until about 13:14 hrs. when they informed D.F. that they no longer. required to do exercise.

Hurricanes PZ814 (F/O. Bromley) and PZ829 (F/O. Massey) were ordered by their Flight Commander to practice formation flying, and were airborne at 12:45 hrs. They carried out this practice until about 13:05. hrs, when they sighted Warwick BV233, and then, on their own admission, made two feint attacks. At 13:19 hrs., the Warwick and the two Hurricanes were sighted by two R.O.C. observers from their post at Sadburge almost overhead, the Warwick leading a very loose formation. The Hurricane pilots say they were flying at 3.000 ft. but the observers state the height was1500 ft. The evidence of one observer, which is more or less corroborated by the second observer, is that the two Hurricanes moved into position to attack the Warwick, which took evasive action by making a vertical bank to port. There is no evidence from any other witness to substantiate F/O Bromley's statement that he was originally attacked by the Warwick.

The Hurricanes again moved into position to make a further attack, and in fact, did so. At this point, it is impossible to say what happened to the Warwick, except that they definitely say they saw it dive vertically to the ground from about 500 ft. and burst into flame. All the crew were killed. The weather was good with excellent visibility and no cloud. The accident happened at 13:20 hrs.

After the second feint attack by the two Hurricanes, there is no definite evidence as to what happened to the Warwick. In view of his actions on the previous attacks, it is however reasonable to assume that the pilot took extreme, evasive action in the form of a violent turn to port. As a result, the aircraft went into a high-speed stall due to over-banking and violent, handling. There was no height to recover and the aircraft crashed.

Contributory Factors:

The pilot of Warwick BV233 lacked experience on this type. He was an average pilot. This was his first flight as Captain in an Operational Squadron and was probably over-confident. There is evidence from Witnesses that he flew the aircraft in a dangerous manner just prior to the accident.

He was an inexperienced first pilot. He had not flown solo from December 05th 1942 when he left No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School in Brandon, and his first solo on September 21st 1944 at No. 5 (C) Operational Training Unit.

The attacks by the Hurricanes possibly worried F/O. Luck, but it is not thought they upset his judgment. He was well aware they were being made and only a few minutes before had taken extreme avoiding action.

Allocation of Blame:

F/O..Luck, Captain of Warwick BV233 must be held responsible for the loss of his aircraft, which was entirely due to mishandling. F/O. Bromley and F/O. Massey contravened K.R. and A.C.I. Chapter 12 paragraph 718 in that they made feint attacks on another aeroplane without pre-arrangement.

Recommendations: Nil.

Conclusion of investigation:

I concur in the findings. The Warwick pilot was inexperienced both as a Captain and on the type, and yet his display of flying prior to the accident indicates that he was very over-confident.
Whilst it cannot be overlooked that the Hurricane pilots were breaking flying regulations by carrying out unauthorised dummy attacks on the Warwick, and to this extent were at fault, the Warwiciz pilot need not have joined in and taken avoiding action.
There appears to be little doubt that the direct cause of the crash was the mishandling of his aircraft by the Warwick pilot. F/C Luck.

05th February 1945. Commanding Officer, Group Captain E.F Ward. RAF Thornaby

Burial details:

F/O. Harvey Samuel Luck. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot G. Row E. Grave 13. Born on the 22nd August 1912. Enlisted on the 18th December 1942.

Son of Harvey Milton Luck and Rowena Luck (née Norwood) of Vancouver, British Columbia Mother listed as 11 Woodstock Avenue, Harold Park, Romford, Essex, England. Husband of Min Wilhelmina Luck (nee Cathcart), of 154 Picketing Street Toronto Toronto, Ontario. 1 child, Harvey George Luck.

Fl/Lt. Ronald Cooper. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot G. Row E. Grave 10. Joined 279 squadron from No. 5 (C) Operational Training Unit on the 29th December 1944. No further details - are you able to assist?

F/O. Desmond Charles Holland. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot G. Row E. Grave 14. Born at Auckland on the 02nd February, 1924.Educated at the Whangarei High School and Passed the University entrance Examination. Continued his studies by night classes at the Seddon Memorial Technical College. Enlisted at Rukahia on the 11th July 1942. Trained both in New Zealand and Canada. W/Op/Air/Gnr Badge awarded on the 05th May 1944 and commissioned. Joined 279 squadron from No. 5 (C) Operational Training Unit on the 29th December 1944.. 117 flying hours logged.

Son of Charles Arthur and Ethel Georgina Holland (née Ward), of Portland, Auckland, New Zealand.

F/O. Frederick Ritchie. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot G. Row E. Grave 12. Born in Te Aroha on the 16th September 1922. Educated at the Auckland Grammar School. A clerk for Dalgety and Company at Te Kuiti. Enlisted at Waipapakauri on the 30th May 1942. Trained both in New Zealand and Canada. W/Op/Air/Gnr Badge awarded on 24th April and promoted to sergeant. Promoted to flying officer on the 24th October, 1944. Joined 279 squadron from No. 5 (C) Operational Training Unit on the 29th December 1944. 123 flying hours logged.

Son of John Watson and Amy Leah Ritchie (née Brabant), of 1 Burdock Road, off Hillsborough Road, Auckland, New Zealand.

F/O. Robert Percy Woolfield. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot G. Row E. Grave 11. Born at Opotiki on the 24th August 1916. Educated at Gisborne High School. A farmer on his own farm at Waimana. Enlisted at Rukuhia on the 11th July, 1942. Trained in New Zealand and Canada. W/Op/Air/Gnr Badge awarded on the 24th April, 1944 and commissioned. Joined 279 squadron from No. 5 (C) Operational Training Unit on the 29th December 1944. 114 flying hours logged.

Son of Edward Percy (died 28th April 1956, age 72) and Anna Jane Woolfield (died 22nd April 1952, age 77), of Waimana, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. James Wiles. Hull Northern Cemetery. Compt. 276. Grave 73. Joined 279 squadron from No. 5 (C) Operational Training Unit on the 29th December 1944. No further details - are you able to assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Aucklandm Canadian Government Archives.

Other pages that may interest you:

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Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 10-09-2023

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