Airspeed Oxford HN594, Brown Knoll, Edale, England.

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Airspeed Oxford HN594, Brown Knoll, Edale

The second of two Oxfords to crash near to each other in 1945 in similar circumstances, resulting in the survival of all on board (thanks to the bravery of one man).

December 28 1945. With the war over, two airmen who’d served in South Africa were on a navigation exercise to familiarise themselves with flying twin engined aircraft in a British winter.

Instructor Warrant Officer Robinson had just taken control during the handover. Cunningham says that both trainees had expressed concern at the height of 1,000 feet on the altimeter, knowing that there was higher ground in the vicinity. Warrant Officer Robinson “…merely laughed at their apprehensions, assuring them that he knew the area like the back of his hand.”

They could have been famous last words, as the plane crashed at that moment, but fortunately he or Flying Officer Croker had just pulled back on the stick to gain height regardless of how well he knew the area, or the back of his hand. The effect of lifting the nose caused HN594 to hit the hill flat – and crucially there was no fire.

The crew were badly injured in the crash and Warrant Officer Robinson later had a leg amputated. Croker was severely injured but managed an agonising epic crawl down the hillside on all fours to get help, having first wrapped his badly injured mates up in parachutes. Somehow they managed to survive the night, and were found the following day.

After the war, George Robinson made a pilgrimage up to the crash site every year. Ted Croker went on to play football for Charlton Athletic and later was secretary for the Football Asssociation. He’s the man responsible for the Charity Shield game. While his bravery on Brown Knoll won him a King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct, a fallout with Margaret Thatcher over football hooliganism possibly cost him a knighthood. Ted Croker died on Christmas Day 1992 aged 68.

Warrant Officer George Robinson, pilot, instructor
Flying Officer John E Dowthwaite, pilot on course
Flying Officer Edward A Croker, pilot on course


Peakland Air Crashes – the North, P Cunningham 2006

The Independent on Sunday…

Video of news report of the reunion posted by grandson of John Dowthwaite (please see his comment below).

11 comments on “Airspeed Oxford HN594, Brown Knoll, Edale, England.
  1. Billy Currie says:

    Superb information, you should write a book on these

  2. Lazenby43 says:

    Facinating story. I remember Croker for football.

  3. andyholmfirth says:

    I never knew that about Ted Croker who was such a familiar face on the footy tv as a kid.Hell of a story Ian.

  4. Tech Owl says:

    Yes good research – this looks a scenic area and having been for a small tour now I can see just how much is out there!

  5. Ian D B says:

    Thanks all. Yeah, it’s grand country.

  6. pasujoba says:

    Yeah , its a fantastic story Ian . How do you find out all the info in such depth.

  7. pasujoba says:

    8 months on and I now know how . Lots of time and effort , reading and trawling the internet. Well worth doing though .

  8. Ian D B says:

    yeah, never replied did I? And now you know!

  9. John Edwards says:

    My Grandfather was Flight Lieutenant John Dowthwaite. I would just like to add, that there was never any discrepancy over who was flying at the time of the accident. It was Warrant Officer Greg Robinson who was flying and he has always said it was he who was the pilot at the time. There is also no evidence that Croker broke either of his ankles. This appears to be an embellishment on the part of the media. Ted Croker had severely sprained his ankles, according to my Grandfather, and was able to visit them in hospital without any walking aids.

    There was a Look North Reunion of the three survivors in 1983, if anyone is interested, which I am uploading to youtube and should be ready for viewing by this evening.

    John Edwards

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi John, thank you very much for your comment and for the video link which I’ve just watched and added to the main narrative.

      Very interesting that. I noted the comment in the Independent re; Ted Croker breaking his ankles and indeed was interested to hear him say it himself in the video! It’s also interesting to see how news crews record these things, the interviewer doing several poses and asking repeat questions for the benefit of the editor.

      Good to clear up the matter of who was in control at the time of the crash. Not sure where I read that it was unknown who was at the helm but have removed that reference now.

      Also have just noticed that when I added this page back in 2009, I never added a crew list, so have amended that as well.


    • Andrew Croker says:

      Hi John, Andrew Croker here, Ted’s son. Astonished to discover and see this video for the first time – thank you so much for posting. I’m ashamed to say it has taken this long for me to arrange to visit the site. I’m finally going later this month with my son, also Ted. Hoping to walk to site and recreate his journey. Andrew Croker

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