de Havilland Vampire WA400

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de Havilland Vampire WA400

Flying Officer Lawrance Leslie Beckford survived the crash landing he made here on July 25 1951 in his de Havilland Vampire jet. For a long time the location was unknown but it was rediscovered in 2004 by John Ownsworth* according to Cunningham.

F/O Lawrence had undertaken a series of high speed manoeuvres and was heading back to base at RAF Finningly. However, either he had taken a wrong compass bearing or his compass was out of order, but the pilot realised he was lost and his Vampire was running out of fuel. Faced with the choice of climbing to a sufficient height to bale out, or descending through a break in the cloud to put down on the ground, F/O Lawrence chose the latter. He passed over Sugworth Hall (circled above) and made a wheels-up landing on Strines Moor. He managed to avoid striking any of the numerous boulders on the moor, and safely got out of his jet whereupon it burst into flames.

Not much is left today, this piece of molten metal was the largest bit.

Details from Peakland Air Crashes – The Central Area, Pat Cunningham, 2006.

*John Ownsworth has collected bits of wreckage from the moors over the years and taken them home with him. In the most recent piece I found relating to him (2009) he was hoping the local council would create a museum exhibition of the things stored in his home and which is mostly of unexploded bombs and stuff he has bought privately. I can’t help but think that if a home (i.e. a museum) for the aircrash debris cannot be found then the remains should be taken back to where they came from, perhaps broken up to prevent other people taking away some recognisable piece that takes their fancy.

This page on the BBC has a video clip showing Mr Ownsworth’s collection, which as I say is mostly ordnance. However, the cockpit in the video at 43 seconds was taken from the crash site in the photo below, where two Sabres collided into each over Kinder Scout in 1954 with the loss of both pilots.…

34 comments on “de Havilland Vampire WA400
  1. PeaceLoveScoobie says:

    Great work Ian. I still can’t believe they leave all that material, especially ordinance . I think in the US they practically vacuum (hoover) crash sites. The only time I’ve heard of anyone finding anything is when an undiscovered site is found.

  2. crusader752 says:

    Great detail as always Ian – what a lucky man he was and must have been a hell of a ride in that ‘whispering wheelbarrow’ as he hurtled across the heather 🙂

  3. Ian D B says:

    [] []
    Thanks both. The Whispering Wheelbarrow! I never heard it called that before, Lol.

    Keith, there are wreck sites in the US too, I expect they are just spread out more.
    Please see here for some examples.

    As for ordnance lying around, yes we have stumbled across plenty such as this example on Paul’s stream

    A contact of mine had recently visited the WW1 battlefields of Northern France where he took this photo – some of the ‘Iron Harvest’, a shell and two Mills grenades, dug up by a farmer and left by the side of the road for the Army to remove.

    A daily reminder

  4. nondesigner59 says:

    Very informative and great shots. Cheers.

  5. mick cooke says:

    great work ian interesting story as well

  6. PeaceLoveScoobie says:

    [] Wow! I didn’t know. I’ve been by many of those places listed. I should have taken a look. Especially the P-39 & P-38’s.

  7. Lazenby43 says:

    let’s hope he finds a home

  8. Billy Currie says:

    must have been one impressive landing

  9. **Hazel** says:

    That was a very lucky man Ian!! Love your photos as usual and hope you are OK!!!:-)

  10. Highy says:

    Lucky guy to walk away from that one, guess he was a good 10mins from Finningley?
    Good work as usual Ian.

    How on earth did Ownsworth get that cockpit off the moor?
    Perhaps it should go to Yorkshire Air Museum – the Sabres were from Linton.

  11. gastephen says:

    nice work

  12. andyholmfirth says:

    Amazing what some people take home with them!!??

  13. pasujoba says:

    Terrific work Ian , as ever .
    Words fail me , the selfishness of these people . You are supposed to have funding, preservation, and storage/possible viewing facilities in place BEFORE digging up and removing archeaological artifacts in the UK.
    My bum does look big in those pants though 🙂

  14. pasujoba says:

    Its only a few hundred metres or so from the road Al …I,m amazed that the molten alloy lump is left ! It can only be a matter of time before there is no trace of the site at all !

  15. Tech Owl says:

    Absolutely fascinating Ian – was the circle over Sugworth Hall to get some bearings?

  16. Sprengben [why not get a friend] says:

    Wonderful Photo, it really deserves Explore!
    A good Wednesday to you!

  17. Neal. says:

    My Grandad used to help the war graves commission with finds in France, he found a dead German soldier with his helmet still on, when they removed it his helmet there was still some of his hair underneath!

  18. Ian D B says:

    Thanks everyone!

    I just added the circle to show the line of approach and to liven up the photograph a bit.

    Those are the sort of stories Grandad’s should tell!
    If he worked for the CWGC though, he has my respect, terrific job they did and do. Click on that photo of the shell and check out some of his photos, he’s uploaded loads from trips to CWGC cemys in France and Belgium.

  19. Kris Kros says:

    Wonderful job.

  20. het broertje van.. says:

    What à story man!!!!


  21. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Very Informative and another beautifully shot landscape.

  22. cgullz says:

    superb presentation, and series. top shot has loads: landscape, human interest, aviation interest and camera interest!

  23. C J Paul (chris) says:

    Great work Ian brill info.

  24. amyrey says:

    Unexploded bombs!! Really? In his house…. Is that even legal?

    PS Pauls bum looks just fine to me…

  25. f3liney says:

    Interesting piece – and also nice that the pilot walked away from the crash for a change.

  26. Eric Lomo says:

    Genial perspectiva y luz , tu galeria es estupenda, gracias por pasar por mi galeria, saludos.35 35

  27. cgullz says:

    [] i was tempted to say, but didn’t so now that you have, i’ll join in too .. yes, Paul’s bum looks fine to me too 😉

  28. bartholowaty | Photography says:

    Fantastic capture, really wonderful.
    Congratulations !

    Explore well deserved
    Facebook | Twitter

  29. sixty8panther says:

    Wow, as always your work is inspirational & fascinating.

  30. Kristopher Michael says:

    This is awesome! 🙂

    *Seen in Explore

  31. pasujoba says:

    How as it appeared in Explore months after it was put up ?………well deserved nevertheless Ian 🙂

  32. Benoit Foisy says:

    Congrats on Explore. Most of your pics should go on Explore!

  33. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Fantastic. Great Composition.

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