Airspeed Oxford BM837 on Winter Hill

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Airspeed Oxford BM837 on Winter Hill

Lucky Canadian pilot Flight Lieutenant Martin Anthony Cybulski survived when his Airspeed Oxford crashed on Winter Hill near Bolton, Lancashire, Christmas Eve 1943. The aircraft came down just beyond where the sheep is stood.

Flight Lieutenant Cybulski RCAF was flying from Acklington in Northumberland to Coleby Grange near Lincoln. He was somehow 90 miles off course as he began his descent through cloud, and his Oxford struck the northern slope of Winter Hill.

A couple of months earlier, Flight Lieutenant (Cy) Cybulski had, along with his Navigator and fellow Canadian, Flying Officer Ladbrooke, been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for action over Holland. Hounding a German Do217 in their de Havilland Mosquito DZ757, F/Lt Cybulski almost overshot the Dornier, but managed to pull back and ease off the throttle, causing the Mossie to almost stall. At that moment,he tipped the nose forward and fired straight into the Dornier. The Mosquito was on top of the German plane when it exploded. F/Lt Cybulski was temporarily blinded, and their Mosquito was severely damaged by the blast, yet they managed to make it back to base.

An Airspeed Oxford

image from wikipedia commons

16 comments on “Airspeed Oxford BM837 on Winter Hill
  1. Highy says:

    I’m always amazed how far off course some of these planes were; he was on the wrong side of the country!
    Lucky man!

  2. sidewinder54 (Closed For Business) says:

    Amazing image with the rich foreground colours contrasting the b/w background.

    He was a lucky man, very interesting story.

  3. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    I bet the crew were able to drink off that story at the mess bar for a good few months!

  4. Ian D B says:

    thanks everyone. yeah, not snow, I desaturated the background to try to add some interest as it is a very very dull photo!

  5. Anonymous says:

    that is interesting
    very powerful capture u have there 😀

  6. pasujoba says:

    It worked very well ,Ian , its left us with a very striking image to view.

  7. Rosco95 says:

    This man was my grandfather.

  8. Rosco95 says:

    I wonder why he was flying an Airspeed Oxford on this flight and not the usual 410 Squadron Mosquito?
    But it’s great to be able to find information like this on the internet, helps me learn more about a man I never met

  9. Ian D B says:

    [] Rosco95
    Great to hear from you, glad to have helped in some small way. Sorry it is such a poor photograph, I should go back and do it again.

    Re; reason he was flying an Oxford, this is from Aviation Safety Network;

    Having completed his tour of duty just four days earlier, he was flying on a cross-country flight on the 24th December 1943 from Coleby Grange to take up a new post in No. 9 Group, when he began to descend at his estimated time of arrival, only to strike Winter Hill some 40 feet below the summit, destroying the aircraft and leaving him seriously injured.

  10. Rosco95 says:

    4 years in the hospital and 27 operations on account of this crash. He spent 1943 – 1947 in hospital.
    Ian D B , I was wondering if you or any contacts you know could provide information on him?

    I’m already aware of a lot, but I know there is a lot out there that I still want to find out. I cannot find very much information on his daylight raid over Germany, that gave him the title of being the first pilot ever out of a bomber squad to intrude Germany in the daylight. Quite a successful raid with his navigator Laddy. The entire 410 squad pulled out of the scheduled surprise daylight raid because of unfavourable overcast, and Cy and Laddy decide to go in themselves, just crazy to think about the times just 70 years ago..

    • Martin Fry says:

      Hi Rosco,

      My name is Martin and I met your grandfather in 1984,when we visited him in Coburg, Ontario. Also when he visited Uk in ’83.

      He gave me a picture with info on the back. He had been stationed at RAF Drem when he met my mother and grandparents.1942 I think.

      Your father may remember my mum and I.

      Kind regards.

  11. Ian D B says:

    [] Rosco95
    Great additional notes there, you have found out more than me. If anyone knows more, they could mail you via flickr. Rather than keep coming back to check if you have heard anything, I’d suggest editing your e-mail notifications if you haven’t already; you can set it so that an e-mail is sent to your primary e-mail account if anyone gets in touch with you. On your frontpage, click ‘You’ then ‘Your Account’ to edit options.

    Youo could also try a post here, for instance, see if anyone can provide more detail;
    or here;

  12. Rosco95 says:

    Yes, I have an information resource in my dad. but ya I’d like to see what else is out there, possible anything new. Thank you very much I’ll see what I can find.

  13. catherine ross says:

    Thank you for that photograph. My father was Martin Cybulski. He crashed Christmas Eve. The doctor told him that he must of bumped into Santa Claus. The last thing Martin looked at was his watch. The photograph with the sheep is amazing to see where his life changed in an instant. Christmas was a little different for us growing up. With all my father’s injuries, he never complained. Only when he had a cold. Nice to see my nephew on this site as well. Thank you again.

    • Ian D B says:

      Great stuff, glad you found this page. I haven’t looked at this in ages, good to read of your dad’s adventures again.

      Also to read a little of his life afterwards puts things into perspective. The crews in these stories are divided between those who were killed (the majority) and those that survived, but we don’t really think much about their lives afterwards, especially the difficuties those living with injuries obviously must have had.

      Thank you for dropping by Catherine, lovely to hear from you.


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