Avro Anson LT778, Walney Island

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Anson LT778

Afternoon of 31 May 1943.

The crew of Avro Anson LT778 (10 Air Gunnery School at RAF Walney Island, near Barrow-in-Furness) had completed a target practice firing on a drogue target towed by Martinet HP303 and were preparing to land when the pilot of the Martinet overtook the Anson without sufficient clearance to starboard. The Martinet struck the Anson damaging both aircraft.

The Belgian pilot of the Martinet, Pilot Officer J.E.J. Wegria, managed to land safely and later commented that he believed the Anson had already commenced its landing when the accident happened.

However Anson LT778 crashed on the beach just short of the runway killing all on board. It appears the pilot, Sergeant Anderton, was trying to land the damaged Anson.

CREW
Sergeant Charles S Anderton, pilot
Flying Officer Edwin Creed, air gunner instructor
Leading Aircraftman Fred Wilson, wireless operator / air gunner under tuition
Leading Aircraftman James Lenaghan, wireless operator / air gunner under tuition
Leading Aircraftman Harry Hudson, wireless operator / air gunner under tuition

Blame was attached to both pilots for failing to keep lookout, the Air Officer Commanding noting that one of the crew should have been in the astrodome of the Anson, keeping watch until the target tug and tow lines were clear.

There is very little information available about this crash and it is not recorded in Michael Hurst’s ‘Air Crashes in the Lake District.’ Internet message board debates also appear to confuse this crash with another mid-air collision involving an Anson which occurred the same day up the coast at Maryport.

All the research has been undertaken by Mark Haywood, grandson of one of the crew, LAC James Lenaghan. We met at Walney beach, he is in the photo above. Mark has copies of the Accident & Movement cards and a copy of the Operations Record book and photos from the Air Gunnery School.

He has also visited and photographed the graves of the crew of LT778 and is trying to contact any family members of the crew. In this, he has already met with the sister of LAC Harry Hudson. If any relatives of the crew would like to get in touch with Mark, please email me (see contact page).

Mark may also have found the crash site; the photos on the beach were taken close to the spot where Mark has found some bullets and cases and fragments of other debris on a previous visit, photographed below on his wartime era map which naturally does not show the location of airfields. Whether these are from LT778 or not, I cannot be certain (not without seeing some other debris) but the bullet cases are dated 1942 and 1943. The precise spot will still need to be verified however, as the tide was coming in fast as I took these photos. NB; Mark has since been in contact with two eye-witnesses to the crash, both of whom say the actual crash site was a hundred yards south of this spot.

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Below; Photos of LAC Lenaghan and his class of wireless operators / air gunners

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Squad One LAC Wilson 1st (upper) row on the left, LAC Hudson 3rd row, left, LAC Lenaghan 5th row, right
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Below;
A Hawker Henley towing a drogue target

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Below; Tugs still take-off from Walney but these days towing gliders

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Below; An Avro Anson, this one is LT112
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Below;
Mark’s photo of the beach and Walney airfield taken from a glider
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Below; 2 wartime era signs at Walney, photos courtesy of Mark
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Below; Mark’s photo of the poppy cross near the crash site later in the day as the tide was going out
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Below; Photos of the graves of the crew of LT778 by Mark Haywood
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15 comments on “Avro Anson LT778, Walney Island
  1. Mark haywood says:

    Thanks ian for recording the crash of lt778 on your site.really enjoyed meeting up with you at walney , keep up the good work.mark

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Mark sorry for late reply, been away from home and struggling to get connection. Really pleased you like the page. Yeah was very good doing this, enjoyed it and it’s great to have the story recorded.

  2. Alastair Cameron says:

    Hi
    I have LAC Fred Wilson’s Boxed war medal and condolence slip in my collection.

    I met and spoke with his sister when I added the medal to my collection. She told me the family were told that the Anson was shot down by the Luftwaffe but didn’t really believe that. She was happy I had the medal etc and believed it was sold when his wife died in 1997.

    • Mark Haywood says:

      Hi Alistair..
      Thanks for your comment ..would love to have a photo of the medal and the letter of condolence if possible.thanx mark..p.s. I’m going to walney island today ..

    • Mark Haywood says:

      Hi Alistair..
      I’ve been to Freds grave many times in Walton le dale..was hoping to find relatives ..could you help..thanks mark

  3. Hi my name is Stephanie Lawton, I work as an unpaid volunteer Exhibition Officer at the Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle, Cumbria (Registered Charity)
    I am in the process of putting together a display for next year on the airfield of Cumbria during the Second World War. I came across your site with the images etc I would like to ask if you would grant me permission to use them?
    P.S where were the crew buried?
    Stephanie

  4. Henry Prescott says:

    I often visit the grave of Fred Wilson to pay my respects to that generation. I live 2 minutes away from it.

    Thank you for this site. It’s nice to know what happened to Fred.

    • Mark Haywood says:

      Hi Henry..
      I have also been to the grave of Fred many times with poppy and left messages for any family to get in touch.ive noticed the grave always looks well tended..
      If u noticed Fred Wilson is in the Photo..
      Squad 1 top left..with James and Harry..
      Thanx for your reply..
      Mark

  5. Gregory Greer says:

    You have posted the headstone for John Thomas & Mary Anderton, parents of Sgt Charles Stanley Anderton. Can you tell me the cemetry this headstone is located in? I am working on Sgt Charles Stanley Anderton’s memorial page on the Find-A-Grave website and want to ensure I have associated the correct information for his parents.

    Thank you.
    Gregory Greer

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