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8-10-1943 RAF Kirmington – Lancaster crashed on or near runway? Information requested please.
No 166 Squadron was detailed to provide 14 aircraft to attack HANOVER. Lancaster Mk III, ED.993 was flown that night by Warrant Officer Pilot Reginald Paul Rabett, aged 21.
Lancaster III Coded AS-C Airborne 2240hrs 8Oct43 from Kirmington for Hanover. Outbound, a fire broke out in the port outer, necessitating an early return. While preparing to land, the port inner cut and the Lancaster crashed at 0025hrs and burst into flames. Sgt Croxon was thrown clear on impact, while Sgt Davidson survived after the tail section broke away from the fuselage and was carried clear of the fire. W/O R.P Rabett killed, Sgt T.Roberts killed, Sgt R.Gratwick killed, Sgt J.O’Reilly killed, Sgt R.Davies killed, Sgt E.Croxon Sgt L.Davidson
The crash broke off the tail setting the rear gunner free from the craft and a crew man in the centre turret was also thrown free from the Lancaster, both of whom survived. Unfortunately the remaining crew, W/O Rabett included, all died in the aircraft which broke into fire after the crash landing.
Midnight just passed, 9.10.43 around 00.25 hours. Forced to abandon mission as port outer engine caught fire. On coming to land, port inner engine cut out and aircraft crashed. The Chief Medical Officer of No. 166 Squadron was awarded the George Medal when he rescued the rear gunner from the burning aircraft.
Accident Report Summary.
With the no. 1 engine dead due engine fire, attempted return to base during which the no. 2 engine was inadvertently shut down and the subsequent yaw could not be contained. Reporter considers the design of the idle cut-off [mixture lever position where the fuel supply is terminated] mechanism to be inadequate, admits the possibility of an error in operation, and suggests a separate control be introduced to prevent the situation occurring for whatever reason.
Any photos, written testimony etc please advise. Jim O’Reilly (Nav) was my uncle.
i am doing a history of old PoW Camps of which this was one.
this is part of my Masters (MA) / PhD resreach that i am under taking as a post grad student at the University of Falmouth
I would be greatful if you could give me the location of the huts that you show in your photos
Apologies for the late reply.
It is a while since I visited this place, but the comments on this page has the details right, I think.
If correct, these huts are here
On google earth it looks right but it’s been a while so I can’t be sure.
Good luck with your studies,
I had a talk with an old German gentleman at the weekend.
He was a young lad, radar operator in the war and saw some things.
They shot down a Vickers Wellington in 1943 and all five crew members died as it struck the ground near his radar tower. It apparently took off from Kirmington.
He was a normal soldier. They always tried to get to the crash sites as soon as possible before the SS turned up. They registered the wounded if any and got them sent to the camps. Strange enough, when the SS registered a crash first, practically no one ever survived.
This time they really didn’t survive the crash.
He took a keepsake from the scene. It is a lucky white heather from Orkney with a note on the back and pasted onto the back of a “Player’s Medium” tobbaco card. A keepsake for someone.
He feels partly responsible for their deaths although he never fired apon them.
He asked me to try to give it back to the family.
Within a matter of an hour using the internet. We’ve possibly identified the plane; the “Vickers Wellington #LN396” shot down on the 31 August 1943 over Süggerath. It was on a radar scramble mission. Loaded with tin foil to drop and therefore create radar noise over Mönchengladbach.
Have you any Chance of dupplying the crew list?
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