Handley Page Hampden AE381 of 50 Squadron, at Cluther Rocks, Kinder Scout, Peak District

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Handley Page Hampden AE381, Kinder Scout

These few fragments are all that remain of a Hampden bomber which crashed here in bad weather on the night of January 21st 1942. All crew members were killed instantly.

This crash site is in a lovely spot, very close to a popular footpath overlooking the Kinder Reservoir, and I spent a while here waiting for the clouds to shift a bit and watching airliners climbing away from Manchester Airport. Poignant really, as controllers at Manchester Airport (or Ringway as it was then) were the last people to have any contact with the crew of this aircraft.

AE381 was on a cross country training flight preparatory to beginnning operations. Two of the crew were Australian, the other two were British. Some books refer to the bomber as having been on a propaganda leaflet dropping run, called off because of the bad weather. But it seems accepted now that this was not the case, and any leaflets found at the scene were likely to have been from a previous operation.

Having taken off from their base at Skellingthorpe, near Lincoln, the crew became lost in a foul blizzard somewhere over Northern England. Wireless Operator Sgt Tromains had contacted Ringway using Morse and received a bearing in order to land there. Sgt Heron brought the Hampden in over Knutsford, about 7km South West of Ringway. Their engines were heard in the cloud overhead and a signal was sent to AE381 advising of their position.

As well as alerting the pilot to the fact they they had overshot the runway, this confirmation would also have given navigator Sgt Williams a precise location from which he could start over and plot a route back to Skellingthorpe, which was just 20 minutes away. Cunningham comments that they could have done this and no-one would be any the wiser. Better to arrive back a bit late than suffer the embarrassment of having had to land at Ringway.

For whatever reason, AE381 did not attempt to land but flew on. No more was heard from Sgt Tromains and another signal was sent, this time advising the aircraft turn around to come back to land, but there was no reply; AE381 had crashed on Kinder Scout some 25 km ENE of Ringway.

Some accounts refer to the Hampden following a radio beam to land at Ringway; had Sgt Heron followed such a beam in the same direction before swinging round to follow it back, he could have turned around too late, which could have put them over Kinder Scout. But Cunningham says the beam theory is unlikely for several reasons. He suggests instead the crew had decided against landing at Ringway in such lousy conditions and, with their location over Ringway known, had flown over Stockport and decided to head South East back home to their base in Lincolnshire, but alas without first gaining the necessary height to clear Kinder Scout.

Crew
Sgt Royal George Heron, RAAF, pilot
Sgt Walter Chantler Williams RAAF, navigator
Sgt William Thomas Tromans, RAF, wireless operator
Sgt Sidney Albert Peters, RAF, wireless operator / air gunner

UPDATED 17 January 2016
Below; some images kindly provided by Mick Peters the nephew of Sgt Peters.

Sid’s wedding day
7

His air gunner wing
7

Photo of Alan E Jones painting of Hampden AE381 about to crash into Kinder Scout
7

refs
Cunningham, Pat (2006) Peakland Aircrashes – The North
Earl, David W (1999) Hell on High Ground Volume 2

29 comments on “Handley Page Hampden AE381 of 50 Squadron, at Cluther Rocks, Kinder Scout, Peak District
  1. andyholmfirth says:

    That is quite a location Ian.On the edge of an escarpement rather than the middle of some peaty moor.You’ve got a fine shot of it.

  2. Tech Owl says:

    This look a relative high spot, surveying the surroundings. The lake below looks quite picturesque and the memorial seems for be where a collection of pieces have been placed rather than left scattered. And there is that name again – Kinder Scout. It seems to have claimed quite a few lives

  3. pasujoba says:

    Great shot Ian , and interesting account .
    I guess the bivi is off?

  4. ​favourite waste of time​ says:

    what a lovely spot though.. very sad when you stand by the site and look out over the valley to imagine the ghosts of those boys walking those hills.

  5. redrocker_9 says:

    Wonderful shot as always~

  6. Ian D B says:

    Thanks all.

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/cachelog/]

    Hi Bryan, between 1937 and 1954, 13 planes crashed on Kinder Scout with the loss of 29 lives. Kinder Scout is a plateau, 2,088 feet at its highest, it’s a featurless peat bog of about 4 square miles. A further two planes and one helicopter also crashed between 1954 and 1997, fortunately with no fatalities. The debris here is just a few fragments of mostly molten metal which was scattered when the Hampden exploded. These bits have been gathered together in this small pool.

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44/]

    yeah, couldn’t be certain of the weather. Might try again next weekend…

  7. Gary Shield says:

    All the shots you take of these sites are so serene, calming and relaxing, a fitting memorial to the actual tragedy that took place there. Great shot Ian

  8. SolarScot. says:

    Ian if you ever want to come up to Berwickshire and see the old aerodromes here or i could post you the book i have of such crashes around here,just let me know.you keep their memory alive and thats a good thing

  9. mick cooke says:

    great photos ian pleasure to view
    mick

  10. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/solarscot/]

    Thanks John,

    Very thoughtful, would be good to visit some sites further afield one day. What’s the book?

    Would the aerodrome you refer to be RAF Winfield?
    From Tam-Rankin’s photostream;

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/22766351@N05/2551709362/]

  11. het broertje van.. says:

    So beautiful…………………wow!!!!! , but so sad also!!!!

  12. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    It’s amazing how much interest these photo’s bring out from other interested parties, goes to show that there will always be an interest in those who gave so much during the war. I’m sure the men involved themselves would never have thought that they would be talked about and remembered after 60 plus years.

  13. cessna152towser says:

    This is particularly poignant for me as my wife had an older cousin whom she never knew, Flight Sergeant Tom Hannah, Killed in Action 13th July 1942, age 21, while flying RAF Hampden Bomber AE390 on a mine-laying mission from Waddington, Lincolnshire, off the French coast at Lorient, believed shot down by enemy flack – commemorated on panel 104 at Runnymede Memorial. Tom Hannah was born in Canada of Scottish parents and volunteered for the Royal Air Force. The aircraft which he piloted on his fatal mission would have come from the same batch as the one shown here in your photo. I am particularly interested in the re-construction of a Hampden which is taking place at East Kirby airfield in Lincolnshire.

  14. Ian D B says:

    Thanks for that Alexander. Incredible sacrifice that generation made. Hampdens look terrific, to my eye at least! but apparently were really cramped and uncomfortable. I shall keep an eye out in Flypast for news of that Hampden reconstruction.

  15. ailsa.macduff says:

    50 Squadron AE400, based at Skellingthorpe. March 8th 1942. Missing whilst ‘gardening’. My Great Uncle Pilot Officer- Allan Godfrey Davidson, Navigator Sergeant- Leslie Fellows buried at Brest cemetery, Wireless Operator/Air gunner- Sergeant WMA Eardly, Air Gunner -Sergeant Gordon Shakleton. Apart from Fellows all went down with their Handley Page Hampden.

  16. Ian D B says:

    Good to hear from you Alisa, thanks for sharing your Uncle’s story. His crew would have been friends with that of AE381.

    Gardening – RAF parlance for mine laying!

  17. Mick Peters says:

    Some years ago my wife and I placed a slate plaque at the crash site of AE381, dedicated to my late uncle, Sid “Boy” Peters and his fellow crew. Does anyone know if (a) the plaque is still there, and (b) is it still in good condition? Thank you. Mick Peters.

  18. Ian D B says:

    Paul was up there last year, looks to have been repainted since I was there last (4 years ago)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasujoba44/8109916533/in/set-72157622223377709

  19. Vanessa says:

    I have just been informed of this link from family.
    I am the grand daughter of sgt William Thromans, my mothers father died in this plane crash and until now we did not really know the circumstances regarding his death.
    Such a pity my Mom did not get to see this in her lifetime.
    Thank you one and all in the discovery and sharing of this event, God bless.
    Vanessa

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Vanessa, it’s good to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to add a comment.

      Ian

      • Ian Watson says:

        My father was the first person to get to the burning plane. When the RAF team arrived I guided them towards the crash site. LAter the site was cleared and the wreckage was sledged down via Upper House.

        • Ian D B says:

          Interesting to read Ian, thanks for your visit and comment.

          • Mick Peters says:

            Hi Ian. Could you give me any further information regarding the crash other than what is already written? I have my late incles last letter and some of his badges. My direct email is pinguroadie@hotmail.co.uk My mobile is 07767-602250. Thank you, Mick Peters.

          • Ian D B says:

            Hi Mick, I will take a look at what books I have, see if there is anything further I can add. Give me a couple of days, will email you if there is anything additional or any photos.
            Ian

  20. Mick Peters says:

    Many thanks Ian. If you or anyone else reading this thread ventures to North Wales feel free to give me a call. I have the original oil painting of AE 381 by Alan E. Jones along with some small artefacts and my uncles air gunner flash which were found at the site in the late 1940s.

    • Ian D B says:

      I love Alan E Jones’ paintings. Happy to put up some images on here if you have any photos but meanwhile I will take a look at those books tomorrow and get back to you.
      Ian

    • Delta says:

      Hi Mick ,
      I have some letters etc. left to me by Sydney Peters wife, I want you to have.
      Also I have photos of his War Grave.
      please contact me as your e-mail seems out of date.
      Delta

  21. Mick Peters says:

    Hello, and thank you for getting in touch. I did visit my uncles grave many years ago but would be grateful if you have recent photo. I would also love to read his letters if I could. Are you related to his wife Joan? My email is: pinguroadie@hotmail.co.uk Best regards, Mick.

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