Operation: Air Test
Date: 19th August 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 16 Operational Training Unit. 92 Group
Type: Martinet TT.I
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Upper Heyford
Location: As above
Pilot: P/O. Donald Bruce Woodhead NZ/412301 RNZAF Age 30. Seriously injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 16:36 hrs on an air test after a major inspection.
After climbing to 150 ft the aircraft suffered an engine failure. The pilot banked to avoid the village of Upper Heyford whilst attempting a forced landing. Tragically he hit two trees and crashed. Although alive when he was removed from the wreckage, he died shortly afterwards.
The reasons for the crash are that four valves had seized in their guides, probably as a result of corrosion. It was also stated that it was possible that the engine had not been warmed up sufficiently prior to take off.
A full military funeral was held at Botley cemetery on the 24th August.
P/O. Donald Bruce Woodhead. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/3. Grave 135. Born on the 02nd July 1912 at Auckland, the son of Fred Baynes Woodhead and Elizabeth Jane Woodhead (née Ross) and husband of Betty Woodhead, (née Holmes) of Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand. Worked as a teacher for Auckland Education Board. A total of 935 flying hours logged and having completed 39 operational sorties - 36 of these made with 40 Squadron in the Middle East.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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