Sadly, Dartmoor has more than its fair share of aircraft crash sites and some of them still show bits of the wreckage. If you look at the map below you will see the major second world war airfields, clearly Dartmoor is surrounded by them on all sides so maybe it is not surprising that some of the planes crashed either leaving or returning to their airbases:
Obviously there were other operational airfields in other counties which would also take aircraft flight paths across the moor agin either leaving or returning from missions and training flights. The list below is by no means complete but gives an indication of the activity over the moor during the 1940’s and shows the horrific loss of many brave airmen.
Crazywell Pool – 11.05.1931
A Tiger Moth crash landed in thick fog and decked about 300 yards from the pool.
Lower White Tor – 04.07.1939
A Fairley Battle from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire crashed whilst on a cross-country exercise.
Letterbox stamp from site,
Okehampton, Nr – 22.08.1941
A Junkers was shot down by a Spitfire from 152 squadron based at RAF Warmwell in Dorset. The plane was on a reconnaissance mission over Filton, one crew member died and three were taken prisoner.
Okehampton, nr – 20.11.1940
A Gloucester Gladiator belonging to 247 squadron crashed whilst on patrol from RAF St. Eval in Cornwall.
Corn Ridge – 18/03.1941
A Liberator crashed – no further details.
Hameldown Tor – 21.03.1941
A Hampden crashed belonging to the 49 squadron of 5 group bomber command was returning to RAF Scampton Lincolnshire after an operation and crashed due to bad visibility at 22.50pm. A memorial to this crash was incised on a granite boulder it had a cross and the following:
R A F
R D W
C J L
R L A E
A plaque was added to the boulder in 1991 and it states the following:
The Hameldon Memorial – ©Tim Sandles 2005.
ON 22ND MARCH 1941
A ROYAL AIRFORCE BOMBER
49 SQDN SCAMPTON
CRASHED RETURNING FROM
OPERATIONS OVER FRANCE
THE 4 CREW WERE LOST
THIS MEMORIAL BEARS
THEIR INITIALS AND SQUADRON
NUMBER – COMMEMORATING
THEIR SELFLESS COURAGE
AND THAT OF FELLOW AIRMEN
WHO PERISHED ON DARTMOOR
1939 – 1945
THEIR SACRIFICE HELPED US
TO MAINTAIN FREEDOM
THE AIRCREW ASSOCIATION 1991
There is a story that in 1971 some walkers were on Hameldown on the night of the 21st of March, one of whom was a stranger in the area. Suddenly the visitor threw himself to the ground with his hands over his head. It seems that he saw what looked like a twin engine bomber flying directly towards them. Nobody else saw or heard the aircraft but the stranger was adamant as to what had happened – this event occurred at 11.00pm which was roughly the time the Hampden crashed thirty years previous. It is strange that the original inscription bears the date of the 21st of March whilst the new plaque states the 22nd?
The ridge of Hameldown still shows the evidence of wartime defences in the form of rotted posts. At one time these were series of tall poles erected to deter enemy aircraft or gliders.
Hangingstone Hill – 04.04.1941
A Hampden crashed whilst returning to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire after laying mines at La Rochelle.
Ashburton, Nr – 25.04.1941
A Beaufort from RAF Chivenor crash landed when the engines cut
Hameldown Tor – 27.09.1941
A Bristol Beaufort crashed whilst on patrol.
Princetown, Nr – 29.11.1941
A Supermarine Spitfire from 317 squadron crashed whilst on patrol from RAF Exeter.
Holne Moor – 1942
A Messerschmitt crashed whilst on a reconnaissance mission, the pilot, Kurt Thune parachuted from 6,000ft.
Kitty Tor – 1942
A Wellington Bomber crashed – no further details.
Tiger Marsh – 1942
A Flying Fortress crashed – no further details – Thanks to Adam Hingley there are now some details:
Amongst the wreckage is a plaque which states:
IN MEMORY OF
THE CREW OF 8th AIR FORCE
B17 42-37869 THAT CRASHED HERE
ON 25 DECEMBER 1943
ERNEST H PATTERSON – INJ
RAYMOND A COATES – INJ
RICHARD T NEARLY – DIED
SHERWOOD R RENNER – DIED
SAMUEL L CRAIG – DIED
MARIO A PANITTI – DIED
ALBENY T BLANCHARD – DIED
BASIL BROWN (RAF) – INJ
Many thanks to Adam for the photographs.
Stannon Hill – 27.05.1942
An Avro Lancaster from 207 squadron crashed whilst on a cross-country exercise from RAF Bottesford in Leicestershire.
Cornwood – 22.08.1942
A Short Stirling from 149 squadron crashed whilst returning from a mine laying operation off the French Coast.
Princetown, Nr – 06.10.1942
A Wellington Bomber from 142 squadron crashed whilst on operations from RAF Waltham in Lincolnshire.
Plaister Down – 31.10.1942
A RAF Liberator crashed after trying to land at nearby RAF Harrowbeer there was one survivor.
Widecombe-in-the-Moor – 29.11.1942
A Spitfire crashed whilst on flight from Liandow
White Tor – 06.12.1942
A Supermarine Spitfire crashed whilst on flight from RAF Perrantporth in Cornwall.
Kennon Hill – 23.01.1943
A Flying Fortress crashed whilst returning from a raid on a submarine base in Lorient in France. The plane was hit and managed to fly back as far as Dartmoor on one engine, there was one survivor.
Hameldown, Two Barrows – 27.12.1943
A B24 Liberator from the 2nd American Bomber Group crashed whilst on a training flight from RAF Alconbury in Cambridgeshire.
Steeperton Tor – 03.12.1943
A Consolidated Liberator crashed whilst on a training flight from RAF Dunkeswell. The RAF Salvage Unit recovered the plane in a nine day winter operation.
Okehampton Moor – 28.12.1943
A Consolidated Liberator crashed whilst on a Anti-shipping flight from RAF Dunkeswell.
Two Bridges, 3 miles north – 1944
Either a Typhoon or a Tempest crashed – no further details.
Huntingdon Warren – 13.10.1945
A USAAF Douglas C-47 Skytrain crashed some of which decorated MooRoaMan wall.
Brent Moor – 23.10.1947
A Spitfire crashed – no further details.
Rendell, P. 2000 Crashed Aircraft on Dartmoor (pp14 – 16) The Dartmoor News No.52, The Old Dartmoor Company, Okehampton.