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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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RAE Farnborough Crest
11.05.1956 RAE Farnborough Valiant B1 WP202 Sqn.Ldr. Kenneth Orman

Operation: Experimental trials

Date: 11th May 1956 (Friday)

Unit: No. RAE Farnborough

Type: Valiant B1

Serial: WP202

Base: RAE Farnborough, Sussex

Location: Southwick rail line, Sussex

Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. Kenneth Orman RAF Age 33. Killed

Co-Pilot: Flt.Lt. Colin Donald Preece RAF Survived - injured

Nav: Flt.Lt. Kenneth Ernest Philip Evans RAF Age 33. Killed

Eng: Mr. Alan Reginald Knight Experiment engineer, Farnborough Age 27. Killed


Nanette Schell contacted us in January 2017 - she would like to contact her two surviving cousins in England. Please contact us in the first instance and your details will be forwarded.


REASON FOR LOSS:

During this experimental flight the test equipment started to fail, consequently they decided to abort the test, returning to Farnborough. As they had a high fuel load that had to be burnt off to land so they flew between Selsey and Brighton. During this time the civilian engineer is suspected to have been trying to reset the circuit breakers.

Shortly afterward whilst travelling at high speed and low level the aircraft experienced a major electrical failure with circuits blowing fuses. The pilot experienced immediate loss of control and ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.

Photographs of the crash site taken shortly afterwards (courtesy John at Sussex Forums - see credits)

Malcolm Allwright was outside his house in Shelldale Avenue, Portslade when he witnessed an orange ball of fire in the area of Southwick Park. He recalls that boys will be boys so he and his friends ran to the park. They arrived before the emergency services and found the entire football field strewn with debris from the crash and saw a hole in the nearby railway footbridge. He recalls that messages we sent to schools in the area to return any wreckage that was taken.



The co-pilot informed the captain that he was blowing the hood, he never replied. Flt.Lt. Preece ejected after some problems releasing the handle. He landed, still in his seat close to the railway station. The other two crew members in the rear managed to jettison the escape hatch but the aircraft crashed onto the railway lines at around 12:35 hrs, before they could escape, they were killed along with the pilot.

Crew graves (courtesy Ian King- see credits)

Burial details:

Sqn.Ldr. Kenneth Orman. Ship Lane Cemetery, Farnborough, Hampshire. Born in 1923 in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. Son to Stephen Ormann of Scarthoe, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England.

Flt.Lt. Kenneth Ernest Philip Evans. Ship Lane Cemetery, Farnborough, Hampshire.

Aircrew Remembered was contacted by his son in July 2014 and he supplied this information: Wife of Kathleen who died in 2009, father to Nicholas, Howard and Robert (Robert died in 1999). He explained that his father dad been married previously and had a family, but was unable to supply further information. He writes: " I do hope he is remembered as the hero he was, as he, the pilot, and technician, all stayed on board to make sure there would be no civilian casualties. As they succeeded then I think that they should be remembered that way."

Eng: Mr. Alan Reginald Knight. Ship Lane Cemetery, Farnborough, Hampshire. Born in 1929. Husband to Charlotte Eleanor Knight of Barking, Essex, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew, in particular the relatives of Flt.Lt. Evans, with thanks to Colin Cummings - ‘Category Five’, Ian King from Ipernity for grave photographs and other assistance, To John at the South East History Board for crash photographs, information and courtesy provided to me. Addition of NoK details for Sqn.Ldr. Orman and Mr. Knight by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2020).

RS 09.10.2020 - Addition of missing NoK Details.

Acknowledgements: 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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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