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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 20525
Last updated: 23 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic CNBR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
English Electric Canberra B Mk 2
Owner/operator:231 Operational Conversion Unit Royal Air Force (231 OCU RAF)
Registration: WD981
MSN: 71051
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:1/2 mile West of Six Mile Bottom, Little Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
Destination airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
EE Canberra B.2 WD981, 231 OCU, RAF: Written off 24/6/54. As the aircraft returned to RAF Bassingbourn at approximately 1,000 feet, the aircraft canopy blew off near the village of Melbourne, but the aircraft continued straight ahead. Having climbed to about 4,500 feet the tail was seen to rise sharply and the nose drop with the aircraft diving into the ground 1/2 mile West of Six Mile Bottom, Little Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire, killing all three crew.

According to a contemporary local newspaper report into the incident ("Cambridge News" 25 June 1954)

"RAF authorities are investigating reports that two parachutes were seen to appear from a Canberra jet bomber shortly before it crashed in a sugar beet field near Six Mile Bottom. It had taken off from Bassingbourn a few minutes before. The three crew, who include a Royston man, have been reported as missing believed killed but only one body has yet been found.

Mystery surrounds the crash but the finding of the aircraft’s cockpit canopy in the Melboum area indicates it might have become detached and been the cause of the accident. The plane hurtled into the ground in a field half-a-mile from the railway and made a hole about 40 feet deep, the sides of which collapsed almost burying the aircraft".

(The Record Card - Air Ministry Form 1180 - says that the canopy came off in flight injuring the pilot. As the Navigators moved forward to assist it is believed that one of them moved the tail actuator switch causing a bunt and throwing them out of the aircraft without their parachutes. Their bodies were found in a corn field some three weeks later, half a mile from the crash site.)

All three crew were killed;
Flight Lieutenant Peter Cyril Wyche, RAF (pilot, Service Number 59481, aged 28)
Pilot Officer John King, RAF (Navigation Instructor, Service Number 583883, aged 23)
Flight Sergeant Jack James Ingleson, RAF (Navigator under training, service number 1686103, aged 30)

The Times dated 25 June 1954 said that they were on a training exercise from Bassingbourn when the accident happened. The Times dated 29 June 1954 said that there was 3 Canberra crashes (2 bombers & 1 trainer) in different places on the 24th resulting in the deaths of 8 RAF Airmen.

The crash site of Six Mile Bottom is a hamlet within the parish of Little Wilbraham, near Cambridge, England, at approximate co ordinates 52.19°N 0.31°E.


1. Cambridge News - June 25 1954
2. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.160 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 30)
4. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.67
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/217:
8. Gravestone of Pilot Officer J King:
9. Gravestone of Flight Lt P C Wyche:

Revision history:

03-Jun-2008 16:40 JINX Added
03-Apr-2013 21:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
03-Apr-2013 21:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
21-Sep-2014 17:58 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
20-Sep-2015 14:40 TB Updated [Operator, Location, Embed code, Narrative]
22-Sep-2016 16:36 Robbo Updated [Operator]
12-Nov-2018 21:25 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
10-Jan-2020 00:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
10-Jan-2020 00:19 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
10-Jan-2020 09:56 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Nature, Operator]
13-Apr-2020 21:39 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]

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