19th January 1945 1545 BATF Oxford I AT655 Fl/Lt. Worswick
Date: 19th January 1945 (Friday)
Unit: No. 1545 Beam Approach Training Flight. 25 Group
Type: Oxford I
Base: RAF Halfpenny Green, Staffordshire
Location: Wassell Wood, Wyre Forest, Bewdley, near Kidderminster, Worcestershire
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Norman Butler Worswick RAF Survived - Serious injured
Pilot (UT): Fl/Sgt. J. R. Payne RAF Survived - Slightly injured
Pilot (UT): F/O. Frank Reid Miller NZ/2409 RNZAF Age 27. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 08:39 on beam approach training piloted by Fl/Lt. Worswick in what had been described as good weather conditions.
After 25 minutes flew into a snow storm whilst at 1000 ft. Whilst climbing to 2500 ft. to begin their approach, both engines cut out.
Whilst attempting a forced landing the aircraft in zero visibility AT655 clipped some trees and crashed at location shown.
F O. Miller was killed instantly with the other two suffering various degrees of injury but survived.
A later board of enquiry revealed that pre-heater muffs for the aircraft carburettor intakes had been ordered nearly 6 months earlier, but they had not been delivered.
These 1545 BATF Oxford aircraft based at RAF Halfpenny Green were used for giving the resident staff pilots, and also those at other local airfields, experience at using the semi blind approach radio beam system known as S.B.A, the main runway at this airfield having been fitted with the necessary radio beam transmitters. The Beam Approach system was a huge success to aid safer landings, but apparently by 1942 not many military airfields were equipped with it and, if conditions were foggy, the crews would just be diverted to another fog-free airfield!
Burial and personal details:
P/O. Frank Reid Miller. Cremated at Harrogate in Yorkshire. His brother later collected his ashes for burial at Christchurch Crematorium (Bromley). 14. 2G. Born on the 01st February 1917 at Christchurch. A student at West Christchurch High School before he was recommended for a RAF Aircraft Apprenticeship. Embarked for England on the 25th November 1932 at the age of 15. Received his air gunners badge on the 02nd Mat 1936. Embarked for Singapore to join 203 squadron in January 1937 then with 100 squadron embarking for Egypt in October 1939. Remustered as a pilot (u/t) on the 15th April 1942. Left for Rhodesia for training on the 22nd May 1942. Commissioned on the 05th June 1943 when he was also awarded his pilots badge. Transfer to the RNZAF on the 01st January 1944. Son of George Greyling Miller and Edith Lillian Miller (née Stokes), of Somerford Street, Christchurch, Canterbury and husband of Edith May Miller (née Chamberlain), of Christchurch. At the time of her husbands death was living in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England. Edith died on the 09th June 1997. They had 1 child, a boy. A total of 724 flying hours logged with 500 on the Oxford.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand. Grave photo courtesy PGK of Christchurch and used with permission, other sources as quoted below: