‹ Return to RAF Crash Sites 1942 – 1945
Please scroll down for grid reference and notes on visiting the site.
08 February 1942 the crew of Wellington T2714 DD-C of 22 Operational Training Unit (OTU) were on a navigation exercise out of RAF Wellesbourne Mountford in Warwickshire. For reasons unknown, the radio wasn’t working properly at some point after take off.
Having become disoriented over the Irish Sea, the crew were obviously unaware of where they were and at around 2.30 in the afternoon, the Wellington crashed on the upper slopes of a hill called Knott in the Lake District.
The rear gunner, Sgt Rutherford, was thrown clear in the crash and survived but tragically the rest of the crew were killed in the accident. Sgt Rutherford made the long and painful descent to the hamlet of Longlands to raise the alarm.
Earl (1999) says the Inquiry put the blame on the wireless operators for not alerting the pilot who would have turned back to base, though if they were already lost above the clouds having made a navigational error, that seems harsh.
Below view west out towards the Solway Firth
The Newsletter of the Friends of Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life of June 2018 (pdf) includes a story from an airman, LAC James Waite. It says, “Just a few days after arriving at a Carlisle hospital he found the neighbouring bed occupied by another very severely injured RAF man. They of course began to exchange stories…” The other man was Sgt Rutherford. “They were on a bombing practice and flew into mist on the Lakes. The rear gunner saw the ground close beneath them and told the pilot but they crashed immediately. When he came round he found himself about 20 yards from the wreckage the tail having broken clean off with his turret attached”. LAC James Waite goes on to say that Sgt Rutherford eventually arrived at Longlands with severely frostbitten hands and feet.
Sgt Leslie George Mizen RAFVR, pilot. Killed
Sgt James Graham Hardie RAF, co-pilot. Killed
P/O Denis John Richardson RCAF, air observer/navigator. Killed
F/Sgt Louis Joseph Raymond Bechard RCAF, wireless operator/ air gunner. Killed
F/Sgt Edward George Jenner RCAF, air gunner. Killed
Sgt Stuart John Gascoyne Rutherford RAFVR, air gunner. RAFVR. Injured
Sgt Rutherford was killed a little over a year later, as a crew member of Whitley BD412. On anti-submarine patrol off the Cornish coast, the aircraft was lost at sea somewhere around Bishop’s Rock on 31 March 1943.
Below Some of the fragments of debris at the crash site.
Below Writing 20 years after the crash, A. Wainwright noted in his 1962 guide to the Northern Fells that “piled up against this wall are the remains of an aeroplane.” Probably from Wellington T2714 though possibly from Anson AX145, it is about 3/4 mile from Longlands. I didn’t expect the remains to still be there 60 years later, but looked anyway on the way back to the car. Of course, I saw none. There may be fragments in the long grass, but I didn’t look. It was very boggy, I was tired and had spent the previous hour or so day-dreaming about a cup of tea and a hot pie from Tebay services.
Photo below (source) shows a 22OTU Wellington at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford.
Notes on visiting the site
The crash site is at grid reference NY 28694 32964. There is limited parking at Longlands, it can get busy at weekends so better to arrive early.
I walked along the old bridle road, over Little Sca Fell (nice little wall shelter built into a hollow on the summit), Great Sca Fell and on to the summit of Knott. From there it is a simple walk to the crash site.
There is a path leading in the general direction of the crash site, but care must be taken not to follow it down to Hause Gill or too far down Burn Tod; to do so would mean either climbing down into Burntod Gill and back out again (it’s a lot steeper than it looks on the map) or retracing your steps back up hill to the top of the Gill. There is a bit of a path marked on the map which leaves the path down from the summit, but it’s easy to lose on the ground initially. This same path becomes more clear and will take you down to (or up from) Trusmadoor.