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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 21034
Last updated: 30 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 PR.7
Owner/operator:58 Squadron Royal Air Force (58 Sqn RAF)
Registration: WH799
MSN: 71296
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Beka'a Valley -   Lebanon
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
Destination airport:RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
During the build up to the Suez crisis, an RAF Canberra PR7 WH799 flown by Flt Lt B L Hunter, along with his Navigator Flg Off. R Urquhart-Pullen and Flt Lt A C Small, a pilot who went along to watch the Canberra's tail using the astro-navigation periscope, took off from Akrotiri in Cyprus for a photo-reconnaissance sortie over Syria. The purpose of the sortie was to monitor an apparent build up of Soviet supplied combat aircraft in Syria.

Unfortunately, WH799 was shot down over Syria a Gloster Meteor NF.13 (ironically supplied to Syria by the UK some 18 months earlier...) flown by Syrian AF pilots al-Garudry and al-Assasa, the latter being the CO of the sole SAF Meteor squadron.

Sadly, the navigator Flying Officer Urquhart-Pullen was killed attempting to bale out, but Flight Lieutenants Hunter and Small ejected and after treatment in Beirut Military Hospital were later repatriated.

The ground controlled interception of the Canberra was directed by Major Moukabri of the Syrian AF using an interception plan devised by Squadron Leader Tahir Zaki of the Egyptian AF who was serving as air attache at the Egyptian embassy in Damascus at the time.

Pilot:Flt/Lt B. L .Hunter. Injured, survived.
Nav:F/O Roy Urquhart-Pullen. Killed.
Extra crew member: Flt/Lt A.C.Small. Survived.

Flt Lt Hunter continues the story: "At about the same time (that he decided to climb back into cloud cover), Sam Small warned of a pair of Meteors coming from port of starboard. I can't remember which. I had to turn into their attack... So there were three factors in this particular problem, none of which was helpful to the others as no matter where the Meteors were coming from, I had to turn towards them. It went on like this for a few minutes, which seemed like several hours, and during the first attack we did not get hit. Then Sam said almost immediately after the first attack, with us still climbing, that another pair were coming in, so we turned again. I turned towards them and that's when the starboard engine was hit.

"I had been calling Roy, who was in the prone position to take photographs, to come back to the rumble seat (a spare seat alongside the pilot). He got the message, I think, but did not come back. Eventually, it got to the stage where I was rapidly losing control of the situation, one engine out, still burning. I told Sam to get out, to eject, and from the rear navigation position he ejected quite safely. We were still under attack and I started the desperate business of trying to get hold of Roy. I never did contact Roy on the R/T and, as far as I know, he must have gone back to the rear navigation position to try and eject. Since the ejection seat had gone, I assume he tried to bale out. I am not sure, but I think I heard a big thud on the aircraft which could have been Roy's body hitting the tail plane. I suspect it was. I then ejected. It seemed only seconds before I hit the ground and broke my left ankle. The sequence of events was very quick so I couldn't possibly estimate how low I was, but I remember thinking at the time, if I don't get out now I won't get out. I didn't know whether I got out over the Lebanon or not, my mind was revolving around the fact that if I'm in Syria they're not going to be very friendly."

In fact, Hunter's Canberra crashed just inside Syrian territory, while he and Sam Small landed virtually on the frontier, but just on the Lebanese side. Hunter, unlike many RAF aircrew, did not carry a pistol and he believed that this saved his life. Certainly the crowd which gathered around him after he landed assumed he was an Israeli and started to rough him up until an English-speaking local teacher told them to leave him alone. Flt Lt Hunter then explained he was from the RAF, whereupon things quietened down. The teacher handed Hunter over to the border post where he was interrogated by a Syrian officer.


Air Britain RAF Aircraft WA100 - WZ999
Air Combat Information Group.!

Revision history:

13-Jun-2008 03:46 JINX Added
06-Mar-2009 22:47 angels one five Updated
07-Apr-2013 00:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
09-Nov-2018 17:25 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Operator]

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