Halifax W1146

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Halifax W1146

Fragment of debris from the largely Canadian crewed Halifax bomber W1146 of 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit which crashed on Great Shunner Fell in the Yorkshire Dales on January 28 1943.

The bomber was on a cross country navigation exercise out of RAF Leeming when it crashed in low cloud while descending on the return to base. 3 of the 7 men on board were killed in the crash. One of the men, Flight Sergeant Askew, survived but succumbed to his injuries and died the day after.

The pilot P/O LeFebvre and air gunner Sgt Pudney, themselves badly injured, returned to the burning wreck to get their mates out. Sgt Pudney then walked across the moors, in spite of his injuries, to get help. He was awarded the George Medal for his bravery.

The George Medal is normally awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery (such as the Wolverhampton nursery teacher Lisa Potts who in 1996 suffered extreme injuries protecting kids against a machete wielding attacker) but also to military personnel in non-combat situations.

In a twist of fate, Sgt Pudney of Buffalo, New York, was in another Halifax* bomber of 405 Sqn which crashed less than 6 months later at Clenchwarton near King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Again Sgt Pudney pulled his pals from the wreckage of the bomber and again walked to find help. Tragically he had less luck than he had spirit, and he and all his fellow crew members died from their injuries. He was 21 years old.

*W R Chorley (RAF Bomber Command Losses, Vol 8) says HR832 was a Lancaster bomber of 405 Maritime Patrol Squadron, but that squadron flew Halifaxs not Lancs. Chorley also says Sgt Pudney was from New Jersey, not Buffalo.


Pilot Officer Edmund Raoul Herve Yvon LeFebvre RCAF (pilot, injured, survived)
Sergeant Hugh McGeach RCAF (flight engineer, injured, survived)
Sergeant Richard Edward Drago RAFVR (navigator, killed)
Flight Sergeant Joseph Henri Alphonse Beliveau RCAF (observer, killed)
Sergeant John Dennis Stone RAFVR (wireless op/air gunner, killed)
Sergeant Clinton Landis Pudney RCAF (air gunner, injured, survived)
Flight Sergeant John Ruskin Askew RCAF (air gunner, injured, died)

34 comments on “Halifax W1146
  1. crusader752 says:

    Thats a dark and stormy landscape Ian – great shot but what poor souls…and so young! Doesn’t bear thinking about what the survivors must have gone through.
    Great info as always and I hope you get your compass back ……..down to the lucky rabbit’s foot now is it? 😉

  2. Ian D B says:

    No, another compass from Amazon!

    Thanks for the heads-up about the comments thing being turned off, Rob.

  3. nondesigner59 says:

    Is’t a well composed image with great info and now it has a comments box I can say so.!!

  4. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Malcolm. Was just saying to Rob, the new flickr upload thing set that as a default it seems.

    Having an odd day on flickr; this old photo has been linked to a popular site and has had over 7000 views in the past 5 hours….
    HMS Fame

  5. nondesigner59 says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/maycontaintracesofnuts] 7000 views is some achievement.!!

  6. Ian D B says:

    It’s all from discussion forum, a bloke on there was on board this ship, but sadly he doesn’t seem to be one of the crew.

  7. pasujoba says:

    I remember that shot your dads in it isnt he ?
    Great work Ian at least you found something out there on great shunner fell !

  8. Ian D B says:

    Yeah that’s him hanging onto the rigging on the left.

    Any chance to show off this photo….!

  9. Highy says:

    Great shot mate, love the moody background. Another HCU crash – I think I read somewhere that training crashes were responsible for approx 8100 of Bomber Commands losses.

    Great picture of your dad, they all look very young even the officers.

  10. mick cooke says:

    great photos ian and info
    take care

  11. C J Paul (chris) says:


  12. gastephen says:

    nicely shot Ian

  13. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Great composition and information.

    Thank you very much for all your lovely comments. Yes I see your point, even though I am scared of heights I do find myself saying yes to these tall structures !!!

  14. stopherjones says:

    Nicely done, looks like it’s just part of the rock…wonder if someone will have a Flickr stream in another 70 years time with a photo of your missing compass…

  15. Ian D B says:

    Thanks everyone.
    Lol! Very good.
    It’s crazy they don’t get more recognition. Mind, it has taken till now for the UK to start to recognise the sacrifices of Bomber Command…

  16. *illusionist* says:

    Superb!!! Goes to my fav List…

  17. f3liney says:

    Such bravery. A very sad story.

  18. Corwin's Trumps says:

    A fine photo. Thanks for adding this to the Canadian History group.

  19. bill_fawcett says:

    Another excellent narrative Ian – well researched and presented. The photo with the piece of wreckage, map and compass is a brilliant shot, well thought out! Pity about losing the compass though.

  20. Neal. says:

    great shot ian..you lost your compass?…I found one the other week looks just like yours, must be a design fault 🙂

  21. cgullz says:

    firstly i apologise as flickr failed to deliver me this update: seen the ones either side but not this one. secondly, when i was having contact update probs the help forum was full of folks having ‘stat’ probs: i.e very weird counts [poss. put down to something scanning through flickr looking for pix or who knows what] .. thirdly, i could send you my compass but don’t think travelling 1/2 way round the globe would be too kind on it … and finally:
    brilliant work Ian, as always. love the dedication that goes behind this series and the enthusiasm that goes toward making a well researched and interesting presentation.

  22. Ian D B says:

    Flickr is Fuckd. I do wish they would stop trying to improve it. Not only do we not see Contacts photos properly (hence I now go directly to the person’s front page) also the default setting for all my uploads has it that no-one but me can comment. I then get e-mails from people asking why they can’t comment. I wish they would leave things as they are.

    So for christs sake don’t apologise Ang.

    Am sorted for the compass but sweet of you. And thank you for the feedback, it is what keeps me going!

  23. Ian D B says:

    Lol, very good.

  24. cgullz says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/maycontaintracesofnuts] ah don’t be too hard on it? .. ’tis change, and all the ‘evolution’ [shit] that goes with it. but yeah, that scenario must be frustrating as hell .. when i went to comment on yr recent upload i was like hmm no comments, o and no notes … oh well, come back tomorrow. but this is only because i know flickr has been having problems.

  25. cgullz says:

    btw, feedback, no worries, your stream and information are what’s ‘real’ out there in the flickrverse!

  26. *Psycho Delia* says:

    This is wonderfully rusty.. I love all the info too

  27. Gizzardtreedude says:

    I like the way you set the fragment on the stone, with an empty view of the landscape behind. This emptyness reminds you of the sad loss.
    As always a very interesting history lesson. Glad you replaced your compass.

  28. C J Paul (chris) says:

    nice work ian

  29. Dalesman2012 says:

    A Simple Yet "STUNNING TRIBUTE" !!!
    = The Records of so many have been lost and now only exist in the stories of those that have passed, or Those who are now so old that they do not wish to feel the pain of Rememberance !!!

  30. Steve Ferguson says:

    My mother Betty ran the shop in Thwaite at the time and she remembers two airmen staggering down from the moor her friend jack ran up to the wreck. I spoke to them both this week september 2016.

  31. Richard says:

    Sergeant Richard Edward Drago (Service number 1391710 RAFVR) came from Bromley in Kent and is commemorated on a family grave in Beckenham (Elmers End) Cemetery. Please see https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/74373 for details.

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