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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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No 10 (Bomber) Squadron
23.01.1939 10 (Bomber) Squadron Whitworth Whitley I K7211 Plt Off. Frederick William Miller

Operation: Night navigation training exercise

Date: 23rd January 1939 (Monday)

Unit No: 10 (Bomber) Squadron

Type: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley I

Serial: K7211

Code: PB:?

Base: RAF Dishforth, North Yorkshire

Location: English Channel, approximately 4 miles off Selsey Bill, West Sussex

Pilot: Plt Off. Frederick William Miller RAF Age? Missing

2nd Pilot: Plt Off. Allan Frederick William Miles RAF Age 21, Missing

Observer: Sgt. Horace Cutts 565374 RAF Age 25. Missing

Bomb Aimer: AC1. Harry Thompson 551576 RAF Age 19. Missing

WOp/Air Gnr: AC1. Ralph Levery 522745 RAF Age 31. Missing

Air Gnr: AC1. John Robert Hanley 523936 RAF Age? Missing


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

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

Burial Details

The crew have no known graves

Plt Off. Frederick William Miller. No information about next of kin. Can you assist?

Officers Service Numbers were not promulgated at this time.

He was granted a short service commission as Acting Plt Off. on probation effective 31st January 1937 and was confirmed in this appointment as Plt Off. effective 28th December 1938. He had earlier trained at Yatesbury flying school and 6 Flying Training School, RAF Finningley, South Yorkshire where he gained his pilots wings on 22nd May 1937. He was a very experienced pilot with 296 hours flying Whitley’s and 406hrs flying hours in total.

Above: Manchester Evening News, Saturday Janruary 28, 1939 (courtesy British Newspaper Archive)

Plt Off. 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.

Officers Service Numbers were not promulgated at this time.

Allan Frederick William Miles had served with 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron in July 1937 and was granted a short service commission as Acting Plt Off. effective 19th February 1938 and confirmed in this appointment as Plt Off effective 17th January 1939. Allan is remembered in the Garrison Church, Old Portsmouth

Above: Sgt. Horace Cutts remembered on the family grave in the Hoyland Nether cemetery which is near to Barnsley. (Courtesy of Wayne Bywater)

Sgt. Horace Cutts. Born in 1st Qtr of 1914 in Barnsley, Yorkshire West Riding. Son of John Russell (deceased in 1933) and Florence Ann (née Hoe) Cutts, of Hoyland, Yorkshire. Husband to Amy (née Green) Cutts of Barnsley, Yorkshire West Riding, England.

Horace was educated at Barnsley Grammar School and joined the RAF just after leaving school. Horace is remembered on the Royston War Memorial, Barnsley.

Above: Pte Gordon Cutts remembered on the family grave in the Hoyland Nether cemetery which is near to Barnsley. (Courtesy of Wayne Bywater)

His brother Pte. Gordon Cutts MiD 4747247, Age 25, serving with the York and Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Battalion was KiA on the 25th May 1941 defending Heraklion airfield on the island of Crete. Phaleron War Cemetery and Athens Memorial, Face 7, Greece.

AC1. Harry Thompson. Son of Harry Thompson of Beresford Road, Blackburn, Lancaster.

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.

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 (Jun 2016). Thanks to Wayne Bywater for the family grave images for the Cutts family (Feb 2024). Other updates by Air new Remembered (Feb 2024).

Other sources listed below:

RS 19.02.2024 - Reviewed and updated with memorials for Cutts' family

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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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