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Narrative: Blackburn Iris Mk.III N238 of No. 209 Squadron RAF crashed 4/2/31 in the water at Batten Bay, off Mount Batten, Plymouth Sound, Plymouth, Devon. Pilot, Flt Lt M.H. Ely seriously injured. Wing Commander Charles Tucker took over the controls from Flt Lt Ely to land the plane on the flat waters of Batten Bay just to the south of Mount Batten. Instead of a graceful landing, the Iris nosedived into the water at approximately 70 mph.
The aircraft hit the water under the pilots seats, the tail came up and the main plane crashed into the sea. After a pause one of the aircraft's floats surfaced followed by the tip of the rudder. Wilfred Little, a harbour pilot and Harry Hole were sailing nearby and were the first on the scene of the incident and rescued two men clinging to wreckage.
The Mount Batten station commander and Aircraftsman Shaw (T.E. Lawrence) arrived in an RAF launch which saved two more. Eight of the twelve people on board perished in the crash and six bodies were never recovered, two of the crew are buried at Ford Park Cemetary. "The Aeroplane" of 25/2/31 carried a lengthy report of the inquiry. Key paragraphs read:
"Wing Commander C.G. Tucker was the pilot of the boat. The evidence shows clearly that he was not a competent pilot, and that he had no right to meddle with the controls at all, as he was flying merely as a marker for machine gun practice by the aircraftmen in the boat, and was only sitting in the seat usually occupied by the second pilot because that seat gives a better view."
"He tried to put the boat down on the water, using his authority as senior officer, and he put it down in the wrong way. Flight Lieutenant Ely, who was in the seat intended for the first pilot, endeavoured to correct his mistake, after having already signified that Wing Commander Tucker was doing the wrong thing". 9 of the 12 crew died in the crash:
Wing Commander Charles Gilbert Tucker (aged 44) killed Flying Officer Frederick Kingsley Wood (aged 23) killed Sgt Edmund Walter Harris Wilson (aged 24) killed L.A/C William Henry Stark (aged 22) killed L.A/C Cecil Gwilym Davies (aged 22) killed L.A/C Louis Charles Oates (aged 25) killed L.A/C Harold Corrie Ongley (aged 25) killed L.A/C William Sidney Rutledge (aged 24) killed L.A/C William George Stevens killed Flight Lt Maurice Hibbert Ely injured Flight Lt Charles Ryley injured Corporal William Mansell Barry unhurt
The investigation into the crash found that cause was pilot error, when the pilot misjudged a landing approach over a glassy-smooth Plymouth Sound.