Crew of Stirling EE975

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Reference WMO/275021


St Oswald's Church

Gooselands Hill


BD23 5QB


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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Tree/s
  • Metal Metal (any)
  • Timber Timber (any)
Lettering: Inscribed on a plaque
  • Second World War (1939-1945)
About the memorial: Tree with a rectangular dedicatory plaque. On 13th August 1944 the crew of Stirling EE975 were undertaking a night training exercise with 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit to have been carried out at 8000 feet but during this training flight the port outer engine failed. The pilot feathered the faulty engine but a short time later the starboard outer engine suffered the same trouble. The pilot feathered this engine and attempted to maintain height on the two functioning engines but at 4,500ft he ordered his crew to bale out and five exited the aircraft. The navigator had stayed on board for a short time to assist the pilot and by the time he made his exit he was too low in relation to the high ground below him for his parachute to work properly and was killed on striking the ground. The aircraft crashed a short time later at 02.20hrs into a section of limestone pavement on high ground on Old Cote Moor above the village of Arncliffe in Littondale; an off-shoot of Wharfedale, and disintegrated. The pilot was also killed but speculation remains as to whether the he died in the resulting crash or whether he also jumped too late. Had the aircraft not struck where it did then it would almost certainly have crashed onto the village. A note was made in this crash investigation that the crew had been involved in an incident a few nights previously flying Stirling EF235 and had lost an engine in similar circumstances. They made a forced landing on an airfield away from their home base. Whilst never proved there was a suggestion that the two incidents were as a result of the levels of the fuel tanks being "mis-handled". One will never know today. At least one of the engines was said to have rolled down through the lower fields and was found on the Litton to Arncliffe road. Of those named below it is noticeable that there were two flight engineers, the reason for this is not yet known but it could be the second was observing the first to ensure the fuel tanks were not being incorrectly switched. Pilot - P/O Donald McFarlane Bowe RAAF (419550), aged 20, of Maldon, Victoria, Australia. Buried Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery, Yorkshire (E.B.2)./ Navigator - F/Sgt Robert James Douglas RAAF (426559), aged 22, Annerley, Queensland, Australia. Buried Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery, Yorkshire (E.B.3)./ Bomb Aimer - F/Sgt Cornelius Patrick O'Neill RAAF (429825). Uninjured./ Wireless Operator - F/Sgt George Ivan Maloney RAAF (424667). Uninjured./ Flight Engineer - Sgt Ian Kennedy Fraser RAFVR (1824335). Uninjured./ Flight Engineer - Sgt S Nelson RAFVR (3040117) (or "Sgt Francis Gordon Nelson"). Uninjured./ Rear Gunner - Sgt Clarence Mervyn Davies RAFVR (1836609). Slightly injured on landing. The report compiler visited the site on 1 November 2015.
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