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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 21159
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: WK136
MSN: R3/EA3/6650
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Little Stoneham, 3.5 miles east of Stowmarket, Suffolk -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
Destination airport:RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
EE Canberra B.2 WK136, 231 OCU, RAF: Written off 26/09/1955 - Tailplane incidence (trim) actuator ran away forcing the aircraft into a half loop. The pilot was able to recover to a steep turn, and ordered that the Canberra be abandoned at 20,000 feet. Crashed at Little Stoneham, 3.5 miles East of Stowmarket, Suffolk. Three of the four crew survived (three ejected, one bailed out, one was killed).

Pilot/Instructor: Squadron Leader Stanley George Hewitt AFC, (Service Number 152251) ejected, survived OK. He was awarded a Bar to his AFC for outstanding leadership in a dire situation (see below)
Pilot/Student: Flying Officer E. Bates, on rumble seat bailed out, survived OK
Navigator/Instructor: Flying Officer D.E. Taylor, ejected, survived OK
Navigator/Student: Pilot Officer Patrick John Leigh ejected [but didn't release from seat] - killed 26/9/55.

Patrick Leigh is buried in Trusham Churchyard, near Newton Abbott, Devon. Squadron Leader Hewitt's citation (dated 29/11/55) reads as follows:

"Squadron Leader Stanley George HEWITT. A.F.C. (152251), Royal Air Force.

On 26th September, 1955, Squadron Leader Hewitt was the pilot of a Canberra B.2 aircraft giving a demonstration flight to a student crew. During the initial climb, after take-off from R.A.F. Station, Bassingbourn, a serious technical fault developed which made the aircraft virtually uncontrollable. By superb airmanship, Squadron Leader Hewitt so manoeuvred the aircraft that all the occupants were enabled to leave before he finally abandoned it.

This officer's leadership, in this dire emergency, and his display of coolness and exceptional courage in the face of grave danger, were a fine example to all. Squadron Leader Hewitt has been a Squadron Commander at No. 231 Operational Conversion Unit, Bomber Command, for two years and during this period he has consistently displayed devotion to duty of the highest order."


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.1 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 64)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.158
4. Wings Over Somerset: Aircraft Crashes since the End of World War II By Peter Forrester
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/273:
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2781:

Revision history:

17-Jun-2008 15:32 JINX Added
10-Apr-2013 00:14 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
20-Jul-2014 21:22 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Nature, Destination airport, Narrative]
12-Nov-2018 21:27 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
13-Jan-2020 23:03 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Source, Narrative]
14-Jan-2020 19:42 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Operator]
29-May-2020 14:24 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
29-May-2020 15:31 MIG21 Updated [Operator, Location, Operator]
07-Jun-2020 17:33 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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