accidents and friendly-fire

Nov

15

1942

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.

Apr

4

1941

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The Whitley bomber was outdated at the start of the war but with no alternatives available was kept on offensive operations until 1942.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

Jun

28

1940

Italo Balbo shot down over Tobruk

Italo Balbo, the Commander in Chief of Italian Forces was killed when his plane was shot down, while attempting to land at Tobruk.

Italo Balbo’s plane was shot down by Italian guns as he into land at Tobruk in North Africa just moments after a British air raid on the Italian base. Subsequent conspiracy theories have suggested that he had argued with Mussolini over the North African strategy and was assassinated as a consequence.

Dec

12

1939

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.

Sep

10

1939

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. “

Sep

6

1939

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.