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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 20742
Last updated: 2 December 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: WF889
MSN: 71090
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:2 miles north of RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England. -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
Destination airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
English Electric Canberra B.Mk.2 WF889, 231 OCU, RAF: Delivered 30/6/1952. Written off (destroyed) 16/2/1953. The aircraft passed over RAF Bassingbourn airfield at night at circuit height with both engines running, and the navigation lights on. Two miles north of Bassingbourn airfield, the aircraft was seen to enter into a vertical dive, and to crash.

Crashed and destroyed 16/2/1953 when dived into ground in circuit at night, two miles north of Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, killing all three crew:

Pilot Officer Norman Robertson Mitchell (Observer, aged 21) RAF - killed in service 16/2/1953
Pilot Officer Alexander Jack Smith (Pilot, aged 24) RAF - killed in service 16/2/1953
Pilot Officer (25101813) Frederick George O'Brian (Navigator) RAF - killed in service 16/2/1953

Although the cause of the loss of the aircraft was never determined, the pilot had limited night flying experience, and little dual flying instruction on the Canberra. Wreckage of Canberra WF889 Struck Off Charge as Cat.5(Scrap) at No.58 MU, RAF Sutton Bridge 13/3/1953


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.141 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 Colin Cummings p 341
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1985)
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/138:
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/32/S2618:
7. Grave of P/O Norman R. Mitchell:

Revision history:

07-Jun-2008 12:18 JINX Added
04-Apr-2013 18:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
12-Nov-2018 21:23 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Operator]
25-Dec-2019 21:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
25-Dec-2019 21:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Narrative]
25-Dec-2019 21:50 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
27-Dec-2019 12:14 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Operator]
13-Apr-2021 19:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
13-Apr-2021 19:10 JIXON Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Nature, Narrative, Operator]
13-Apr-2021 19:13 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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