Gloster Meteor WD 778 on Knock Fell

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Gloster Meteor on Knock Fell

Grid reference NY 725 291

Meteor WD778 took off from RAF Leeming near Northallerton in Yorkshire on the evening of 24 March 1954. Pilot Officer John Briggs and Pilot Officer Derrick Walker (navigating) of 228 OCU were on a cross country exercise.

Upon completion of their exercise the crew began their descent to RAF Leeming under radio guidance through thick cloud. It appears the radio stopped working at about this time because nothing further was heard from the crew and the Meteor which broke off from the controlled descent.

One can only surmise that if the radio was out of service, the two men had perhaps hoped to determine where they were by descending through the cloud and identifying some feature on the ground. Possibly they thought they were nearer to RAF Leeming than they were which could account for why they didn’t bale out in spite of the fuel tanks being almost empty by this time.

They had flown some miles west of the base however and crashed on the moor at Knock Fell in the north Pennines. It was 5 days before the wreck and the two dead crewmen were discovered by a passing gamekeeper.

P/O Walker’s first name is spelled ‘Derek’ in some accounts.

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This is Gloster Meteor WA591 photographed at Cosford in 2012
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4 comments on “Gloster Meteor WD 778 on Knock Fell
  1. Paul says:

    Concise reportage Ian . All the relevent facts in place . I have gone for derrick myself in the hope that because its the more unusual form of the name that it is correct ( using the logic that people would generally spell it the other way if they didnt know )
    I did attempt to follow any trace of the crew ….but only found on Link to an RAF man from the early 50,s called Derek Walker who was based at West kirkby but am led to believe taht he is still alive .

  2. Al says:

    Lovely shot of the wreckage mate, they were quite a long way west of the airfield weren’t they? wonder if they had they overflown the base from the east?

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Al. Personally not keen on this image; might as well be honest I merged two edits of the same photo together but unlike Ernie Wise’s wig, you can see the join! I could have re-done it but it is what it is. Not my best overall but I like the angle and the light on the debris.

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