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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 20745
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.2
Owner/operator:231 Operational Conversion Unit Royal Air Force (231 OCU RAF)
Registration: WF910
MSN: 71097
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Beck Row, near Mildenhall, Suffolk -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
Destination airport:
English Electric Canberra B.2 WF910, 231 OCU, RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire. Delivered 8/8/1952. Written off 4/11/1953: Both engines failed on climb out from night GCA (Ground Controlled Approach) from RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. At an altitude of 1,000 feet, both engines failed, the pilot pointed his aircraft towards nearby RAF Mildenhall, and sent out a MAYDAY distress call. However, the Canberra lost altitude rapidly, and the aircraft undershot in a forced landing at Beck Row, 500 yards short of the runway at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. According to a contemporary local newspaper report ("Cambridge Daily News" 5 November 1953):

"The navigator of a RAF Canberra jet bomber was rescued when the plane crashed into a cafe at Beck Row, near Mildenhall. The pilot was killed. The proprietor of the cafe said the plane destroyed the back of his premises, smashed his kitchen table, flattened his car and plunged the whole place into darkness. The jet finished up in his back garden, straddling a chicken run and churning up his vegetables. It must have missed the roof by inches and it was a miracle no one in the cafe was killed."

Of the crew of two, one was killed, and one survived

Crew of Canberra WF910:
Pilot Officer Harold Roy Saunders, RAF (pilot, aged 22) - killed in service 4/11/1953
Pilot Officer P J C Smith, RAF (Navigator) - survived with injuries


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.151 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 Colin Cummings p 423
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1985)
4. "Cambridge Daily News" 5 November 1953
5. Cambridgeshire Aviation Scrapbook 1897 to 1990 by Mike Petty:

Revision history:

07-Jun-2008 12:35 JINX Added
12-Nov-2018 21:24 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
21-Apr-2021 16:26 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Total occupants, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
20-May-2021 23:10 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
20-May-2021 23:16 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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