Transcript of letter to Squadron Leader J V Hay



Transcript of letter to Squadron Leader J V Hay


Author writes to inform him concerning the accident in which his son, who was flying as a wireless operator, was killed. Details eye witness accounts of aircraft diving into ground and all crew were killed. Court of enquiry were unable to determine responsibility or cause of accident. Gives other details of evidence. Signed by Sgt ? G Catley for director of personnel services.
Followed by list with information on crew from RAF Museum Hendon.
Final page is last lines in "Power to the Hunter" poem by Wilfred Wilson Gibson.



Temporal Coverage





Five page handwritten document


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Letter dated ? May 1941 to Squadron Leader J.V. Hay, No. 4 Wing, Royal Air Force, Weeton, Preston, Lancs.


I am directed to refer to your letter of 25th March, 1941, addressed to the Accidents Investigation department, and to inform you that your son was a wireless operator of an aircraft which took off on a 2 1/2 hours cross country flight at approximately 3.50 p.m. on the 24th September, 1940.

Eye witnesses stated that the machine was flying towards Rothes in a normal manner at about 4.0 p.m. A peculiar noise then appeared to be coming from its engines, it burst into flames and began to dive steeply. Its vertical dive continued until it struck the ground near the summit of Ben Aigan. Your son and the other five members of the aircraft sustained multiple injuries which must have resulted in their instantaneous death.

It is regretted that the court of Enquiry were unable to allocate responsibility for the flying

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accident to Whitley V aircraft P.5006 or to offer any suggestion as to the possible cause of the accident. The wreckage was inspected but was too badly broken up for a thorough examination to be conducted. The engine and airframe had been examined at 1.0 p.m. that afternoon and certified as fit for the flight in question. It has been suggested that the peculiar noise proceeding from the aircraft referred to by the civilian witnesses is due to the fact that they were accustomed to the noise of the Wellington aircraft at an aerodrome near at hand and that in consequence the Merlin engine of the Whitley presented a peculiar note. The pilot of the aircraft was stated to be above the average and experienced in flying Whitley aircraft. It was also ascertained that no wireless message was received from the machine during its flight.

I am to express this department’s sincere sympathy with you in your great loss.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
(signed) Sgt. ? G. CATLEY for Director of Personal Services.

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Information provided by the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon ??

F/Sgt. Ashley. Cecil Henry Ashley was 27, the son of Ellen Ashley and step-son of Gomer George Phillips. From Bath.
Sgt. Foley. Norman Foley was the son of Reginald George and Rose Foley. [underlined] Buried [/underlined] St. Thomas, Keresley (now part of Coventry?).
Sgt. Proudfoot. David Scott Proudfoot, RAF VR
Sgt. Millard. Ernest Stanley Millard.
Sgt. Hay.
Sgt. Lucas. Philip Henry Lucas DFM, was the son of Albert Victor and Amy Lucas. From Headingly, Leeds. [underlined] Buried [/underlined] Hull Western Cemetery.

[underlined] Note [/underlined] The above information is from jottings on a sheet of paper (Date unknown). We think it came from Hendon but are not sure. Jim Hughes, author of “Power to the Hunter”, may have provided the (or some) information. Can you

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confirm that Keresley is now part of Coventry or have we misunderstood our jottings?

[symbol] [underlined] Yes it is, [/underlined] having been initially just outside the Coventry boundary line. [underlined] CGF [/underlined]

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The last lines in “Power to the Hunter.”

We who are left, how shall we look again happily on the sun, or feel the rain without remembering how they who went ungrudgingly, and spent their all for us, loved, too, [inserted] the [/inserted] sun and rain?

Wilfred Wilson Gibson


“Transcript of letter to Squadron Leader J V Hay,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 10, 2023,

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