Accident Handley Page Hampden Mk I P1260,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 192497
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Date:Monday 1 January 1940
Time:11:25 LT
Type:Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Owner/operator:7 Sqn RAF
Registration: P1260
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Snaefell mountain, Isle of Man -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Squires Gate, Blackpool, Lancashire
Destination airport:
At around 1125 hrs on 1 January 1940, the Handley Page Hampden Mk.I P1260 of 7 Squadron RAF struck, in bad weather, the mist-shrouded summit of Snaefell, at 2,036ft the highest point on the Isle of Man. The crew were on a daytime cross country navigation exercise from RAF Upper Heyford, they flew to Blackpool and then out over the Irish Sea. The weather over the sea was poor and the crew became lost in low cloud and snow. Corporal Ted Brightmore (wireless operator/air gunner) was in the process of winding out the trailing aerial so the crew could make contact with an RAF station to get a fix on their location when the aircraft ploughed into Snaefell and burst into flames.

As the rapidly disintegrating aircraft bounced down the mountainside, Brightmore was miraculously tossed out before the aircraft exploded but received fairly serious burns: "I remember a terrific thump and tearing sound, being drenched in petrol, a big explosion, rolling into some snow which must have put out my personal fire and saved my life." - Corporal Ted Brightmore (in a 1990 letter to Harry Jacobson)

After badly-burned Corporal Brightmore struggled in the snow, eventually reaching the farmhouse home of Mrs Jessie Cottier some two miles away, a search and rescue party from Isle of Man airbase, RAF Jurby, including Harry Jacobson, was mobilised to find the downed aircraft. With the assistance of the same Mrs Cottier, who directed the rescue party, the party were able to locate the wreckage of the bomber, which was strewn across the mountainside, and found the charred bodies of the three crewmen who had not survived the crash:
P/O (41855) Horace Miers MacGregor (pilot) RAF: killed
Sgt (581258) Robert James Bailey (navigator U/T) RAF : killed
Sgt (518112) Thomas Owen Dennis (WOp/AG) RAF : killed

Some weeks later, while Harry Jacobson was recuperating in the camp sick bay from the pneumonia he had contracted that night, Ted Brightmore was brought in and placed in the next bed.

’This badly burned airman was put in the bed next to me. I watched the orderlies dress his hands with Vaseline gloves every two hours. We both left hospital on the same date. He had his mother with him and that is the last I saw of him.’
Harry Jacobson, 1995

As a result of Brightmore’s 1990 letter to Harry, the pair met again 55 years later, in 1995, when together they paid a visit to Snaefell - where remarkably they were also able to meet again with Jessie Cottier, then 92 years old. The Director of Snaefell Mountain Railway gave permission for the train to stop near the summit, where they laid a wreath and where pieces of the aircraft had remained to that day.

Brightmore was treated in Ramsey for three months before being transferred back to Upper Heyford where he was placed on non-flying duties. He was also later treated by Dr. McIndoe, the plastic surgeon whose patients became known as the Guinea Pig Club.

The crew who died in the crash were buried at various cemeteries across the UK. MacGregor’s grave is at Harrow Pinner New Cemetery.



Revision history:

02-Jan-2017 19:56 Laurent Rizzotti Added
04-Jan-2017 11:29 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Aircraft type]
25-Apr-2018 14:13 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Other fatalities, Source, Damage]
25-Jun-2018 18:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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