Halifax bomber DT578, Great Whernside

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Halifax bomber DT578, Great Whernside

Impact crater and remains of Handley Page Halifax DT578 which crashed on Great Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales with the loss of all on board on November 23 1943.

This is the third site on the western flank of Great Whernside where 3 aircraft crashed within 5 years and about 500 metres of each other. All 3 were on cross country navigation exercises.

DT578 took off from RAF Riccall near Selby in Yorkshire, one of six Halifax bombers heading for St Bees Head on the north west coast of England. The weather was bad, and of these six bombers, three crashed. Of the other two, Sgt C Elton and his crew in Halifax DT541 survived their crash, but the 8 man crew of Halifax JB926 all died when their Halifax came down near the village of Masham.

As for this aircraft, DT578 was heard circling the moors above Kettlewell before diving to the ground shortly before midnight. Heavy build up of ice was deemed the cause of the crash.

The training flight was with a Heavy Conversion Unit (or HCUs). These units trained men already familiar with twin engined bombers such as Wellingtons, in the techniques of flying 4 engined bombers such as these and Lancasters.


Pilot, Sgt S Chadwick RAFVR, aged 21
Navigator, Sgt F W Robson RAFVR, aged 30
Flight Engineer, Sgt F J Robinson RAF, aged 25?
Wireless Op / Air Gunner, Sgt N Martin RAF, aged 19
Bomb Aimer, Sgt D Aitken RAFVR, aged 21
Air Gunner, Sgt E Stabler RAFVR, aged 20
Air Gunner, Sgt K Vincent RAFVR, aged 19

Details from;

RAF Bomber Command Losses Volume 8 (2003) by W R Chorley

Grid reference SD 99974 73376

Crew of Halifax DT578. Photo used with kind permission of Mr David Robson, via Rich Allenby



18 comments on “Halifax bomber DT578, Great Whernside
  1. xjboy550 says:

    Like the history very well done!.

  2. andyholmfirth says:

    So sad.Looks like it really crumpled in the hill.

  3. Highy says:

    Good weather for wreck hunting and an interesting history. From what I’ve read those OTUs were nearly as dangerous as "ops"

  4. Tech Owl says:

    Although here the vegetation has grown back? Interesting differences between some of these sites

  5. McAlister says:

    Wow – your photos of crash sites really hit hard for me Ian. Teaching history is one thing, but these really bring the dangers and the losses to the fore. Very interesting stuff.

  6. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    And not a building or settelment to be seen for miles, what a desolate place to lose your life.

  7. pasujoba says:

    Great work Ian , the photograph of the men who died is a welcome addition.
    I believe that many crews chose not to be pictured together , because they felt it to be an omen off ill fortune .

  8. mick cooke says:

    looks a grim place miles from nowhere

  9. pasujoba says:

    Didnt notice before but the colours are very good on this shot , especially considering how bright it was

  10. sue ellis says:

    hi if anyone could help i am reasearching RAF Riccall and its part in the second world war if anyone can help

  11. Christopher Best says:

    Is the grid ref. correct as Whernside is way south, should it be SE 79974 73376 not SE 99974 73376.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Christopher, thanks for your comment.

      The crash site is on Gt Whernside, not Whernside and the numbers are correct but what was wrong was my typo in the prefix code, it should have read SD not SE!

      Thanks for the heads-up, have corrected it now.


  12. JOSEPH STABLER says:

    Hi Ian D B,
    I’m the half brother to Ernest Stabler rear air gunner, I’m just wondering if you know anyone who walks past the crash site on a regular walk. Because a few years ago I planted some daffadil bulbs on the site area, so I was looking to try and get a photo of them in flower.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Joseph, I have put a reminder on my calendar. I hope to be able to visit the site in April. I will email you if I – or anyone else reading this – get some photos of the daffs in bloom.

  13. JOSEPH STABLER says:

    Thanks Ian,
    Still hoping to get some photo’s of them daffadils in flower.

    cheers Ian.

  14. Joseph Stabler says:

    Hi Ian as anyone got any pictures yet of them daffodils on the crash site on Great Whernside. Let me know on jstabler@talktalk.net cheers Joe.

  15. Joseph Stabler says:

    Hi if anyone is walking regularly along the Great Wernside area of the crash site, I’m hoping for a photo of the daffodils in bloom, cheers Joe Stabler.

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