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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 181308
Last updated: 28 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic ANSN model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Avro Anson Mk I
Owner/operator:500 (County of Kent) Squadron Royal Air Force (500 (County of Kent) Sqn RAF)
Registration: N5233
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Near Cranbrook Road, Benenden, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Detling, Maidstone, Kent
Destination airport:RAF Detling, Maidstone, Kent
Avron Anson Mk.I N5233 ('MK-Q'), 500 (County of Kent) Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) 7/10/39 when control lost after engine failure in bad weather & crash-landed. The aircraft had completed a coastal patrol in bad weather, and was attempting to get back to base. The aircraft came down near Cranbrook Road, Benenden, Kent. Three of the crew of four were killed, but L.A/C Frederick Messent bailed out before the aircraft crashed.

Pilot: 90008 Flying Officer Dennis Guy Mabey RAuxAF killed.
Co-pilot: 90572 Pilot Offficer Andrew MacDonald Paterson RAuxAF killed.
W/Op: 812045 Corporal John Francis Drew RAuxAF killed.
Air Gunner: 812073 L.A/C Frederick Messent RAuxAF bailed out, survived OK (died 13/08/40 while still with 500 Squadron**).

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald" - Saturday 14 October 1939):

Through Crash After a North Sea Patrol. Funeral With Full Military Honours.
Much sympathy has been expressed to Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Drew, 139, Whitstable Road, Canterbury, in the loss they have sustained by the death, as a result of a plane crash, of their son, John Francis, who was Corporal Wireless Operator in the R.A.F.

Corporal Drew, who was 26 years of age, was returning from a North Sea patrol, when the plane crashed during the very bad weather on Saturday night. Of the crew of four one escaped by parachute, the others being killed. An Old Payne Smith schoolboy, Corporal Drew had served for seven years in the Auxiliary Air Force, being recalled for service at the outbreak of the war. For several years he had been an assistant in the Test Room of the Canterbury Electricity Works. A brother, Mr. G. Drew, was on the staff of the electrical undertaking at one time, and now has an electrical appointment at Aldershot. Another brother, Mr. H. R. Drew, is Mains Assistant at the Works at Canterbury.

Corporal Drew was popular among his colleagues at the works and had a bright future in the electrical world. This was cut short by his recall for military service, but there was no doubt that his heart and soul were in flying. He was as well liked among his airmen colleagues as he was with those with whom he worked in civil life. He died as he would have wished ó in the service of a country which he loved. His father, cheerful despite his handicap through having lost a leg recently - the result of wounds in the South African War - was R.S.M. in the 21st Lancers. He held a similar rank the Royal East Kent Yeomanry in the Great War.

That Corporal Drew was held in the highest esteem by his officers and those responsible for the administration of the Electricity undertaking at Canterbury, is apparent from the many letters which the mother and father have received. One officer wrote: "Your son died in the service of his country, and I can assure you that it was instantaneous and painless. I would like you to know how popular he was with everyone here and how much we shall miss him." Another officer stated: "His example in rejoining this unit was very fine and one indeed of which I was very proud and I was looking forward to renewing my old acquaintance with him. I realise that he was a highly gifted man and our only consolation for his death is the realisation that he was carrying out an essential duty in the ensuring of the nationís food supplies and the undoing of the U-boat campaign. He died in the active service of his country, in just the same way as a soldier at the front."

**Survivor, Corporal (later promoted to Sergeant) Frederick Messent was one of the many men killed during the Luftwaffe attack on Detling airfield on 13/8/1940. There are several graves in this particular plot, and the inscription along the top of each one reads - 'BURIED NEAR THIS SPOT'. According to the CWGC website, "Special memorials commemorate 7 men who were among 16 killed by a bomb at Detling aerodrome in August 1940. They are buried in adjacent graves but could not be individually identified."


1. Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War Vol 1 by Ross McNeil page 16)
2. Detling Airfield: A History 1915-1959 By Anthony J. Moor

Revision history:

14-Nov-2015 08:38 JINX Added
07-Jan-2016 21:15 JIXN Updated [Operator, Narrative]
01-Dec-2017 10:53 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Aircraft type]
23-Apr-2018 15:52 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
23-Apr-2018 15:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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