Accident Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I N3495,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 1593
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Date:Sunday 4 January 1942
Type:Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I
Owner/operator:60 OTU RAF
Registration: N3495
MSN: 424
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:1/4 mile north east of East Linton, East Lothian, Scotland -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RAF East Fortune, East Lothian
Destination airport:RAF East Fortune, East Lothian
During the night of 3-4 January 1942, Pilot Officer Donald Hamilton Smith, duty instructor of "A" Flight, 60 OTU RAF, authorized one of his pupils, Sgt William Thomas McMillan RAAF, to carry out a "stalking" excercice in Defiant I N3495. McMillan took off from East Fortune airfield at 05:15 hrs with Sgt Trevor Hartley Jones RAF (gunner). At the time the weather was suitable and Smith had no warning of a possible deterioration. Actually at 0020 hrs a meteorlogical report had been issued to his commander, Flight Lt Herbert Keith Laycock, that a cold frost was approaching and would cover the area a few hours before dawn. A gale was north of the line Ross-of-Mull to Rattray Head but was definitely judged to not affect the area. Orders were given to all pupils to remain local.

But after 05:30 hrs the weather suddenly deteriorated. At 05:40 hrs Flight Lt Laycock ordered all aircraft to stand by to land. All take-off were cancelled and the pupils airborne were ordered to remain close to base and keep the beacon in view. Heavy rain began to fall and a squall completely covered the aerodrome. Visibility was very bad in the aerodrome area.

At about 06:00 hrs, another pupil of 60 OTU, Flying Officer Leslie Howard Talbot Cliff saw another Defiant passing below him as though making a circuit prior to landing. He disappeared from view in the rain, at approximately 1,000 feet. Almost immediately, Cliff saw a flash and flames on the ground.

He has seen the Defiant flown by McMillan and Jones. McMillan was ordered to land first. The Defiant I N3495 flew into ground a quarter mile northeast of East Linton, East Lothian, at about 06:00 hrs.

At this time the rain increased in intensity very suddenly and the wind also rose to gale force without warning and veered from west to north. Still, according to Flight Lt Laycock "it was by no means impossible to fly, as is proved by the fact that the three remaining aircraft were successfully landed." In his opinion, "Sgt McMillan was definitely a below average pilot and it is probable that he lost his head under difficult circumstances. He was a slow thinker but managed to avoid concrete grounds for a recommendation that he be taken off flying."

A Court of inquiry into the accident stated: "The aircraft flew into the ground whilst on a circuit preparing to land, due to the inexperience and lack of ability on the part of the pilot. There was a sudden deterioration in the weather."

Crew of Defiant N3435:
Sergeant William Thomas McMillan (RAAF), Service Number 403008, aged 23 - killed on active service 4 January 1942, buried at St. Martins' New Burial Ground, Haddington, East Lothian
Sergeant Trevor Hartley Jones RAFVR Service Number 1311958, aged 19 - killed on active service 4 January 1942, buried at St. Mark's Churchyard, Highcliffe, Hampshire

The Defiant has been inspected at 18:00 hrs on the 3rd and was fully serviceable. A young lady living in East Linton saw the aircraft just before it struck the ground and it was definitely not on fire.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft N1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain. 1977 p 20)
2. Casualty file of William Thomas McMillan (available online on the Australian Archives website:
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR81/11356:
4. CWGC:
5. CWGC:
6. p 480

Revision history:

04-Feb-2008 16:04 JINX Added
19-Jan-2012 14:34 Nepa Updated [Operator, Destination airport]
20-Jun-2013 09:06 Nepa Updated [Source]
14-Aug-2013 20:37 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
11-Nov-2014 20:21 Tu160 Blackjack Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Destination airport, Narrative]
06-Jan-2017 14:29 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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