accidents and friendly-fire




Disaster at Bethnal Green Underground station

Home Guard soldiers load an anti-aircraft rocket at a 'Z' Battery on Merseyside, 6 July 1942.

There were nearly 2000 in the shelter, including several hundred who had arrived after the Alert, when a middle-aged woman, burdened with a bundle and a baby, tripped near the foot of a flight of 19 steps which leads down from the street. This flight of steps terminates on a landing. Her fall tripped an elderly man behind her and he fell similarly. Their bodies again tripped up those behind them, and within a few seconds a large number were lying on the lower steps and the landing, completely blocking the stairway.




Surviving an aircraft crash in the desert

A Stuart tank being refuelled from an RAF fuel bowser outside Sidi Barrani, 15 November 1942.

I was out of there very quickly. We all got out alive, but some of the passengers were injured. The ones who weren’t hurt soon had some tea brewed, by puncturing one of the wing tanks to get petrol, and brewing with usual half tins. The skipper ordered me to get back in the aircraft and send out an SOS on the radio. This was a bit dicey because there was petrol everywhere, and the generators for the radio gave off sparks.




Tragedy over Dorset

The Whitley bomber was outdated at the start of the war but with no alternatives available was kept on offensive operations until 1942.

The pilot stalked the returning German raider for several minutes unseen before opening fire and watching the bomber spin out of control to crash near the market town of Sturminster Newton in Dorset. Four crew members were able to escape by parachute, but the rear gunner was later found dead in the wreckage.




HMS Duchess sunk in collision with HMS Barham

Barham impacted the Duchess, cutting her in half. There were only 23 survivors of the 160 crew.




HMS Oxley is sunk … by HMS Triton

” I then ordered the challenge to be made as soon as my sights were on and I knew the armament was ready, and the signalman made it slowly. No reply was received. After about 20 seconds I ordered the challenge to be made again. During this time I had been studying the submarine very closely indeed. “




The first British pilots are shot down in the 'Battle of Barking Creek'

Twelve Spitfire aircraft (6 of ‘A’ flt and 6 of ‘B’ flt) ordered to intercept enemy air raid which turned out to be a friendly formation of Hurricanes of No. 56 Squadron, North Weald. P/O BYRNE and a and P/O FREEBORN opened fire on two Hurricanes thinking they were Hostile Escort Fighters.