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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 214144
Last updated: 2 December 2021
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Type:Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Owner/operator:49 Squadron Royal Air Force (49 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L4043
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Ryhope Beach, Ryhope, near Sunderland, County Durham -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:
Handley Page Hampden Mk.I L4065 (EA-G) of 49 Squadron, RAF: Lost on combat operations (mine laying sortie) on night of 14-15 April 1940. Mine laying ops were code named "Gardening", and the target area was off the Frisian Islands, Lower Saxony, Germany. Officially listed as "Hampden L4043 force landed on Ryhope beach, 15 April 1940". According to the Operational Record Book (ORB - Air Ministry Form 540) for 49 Squadron, RAF for this period:

"14/15 April, 1940;
Three aircraft were ‘stood up’ for a "gardening" (Mine laying) operation off the Frisian Islands. Take-off was at 19.00 hours at 5 minute intervals. Flying Officer Forsyth and Flight Lt Mitchell were 'on' again, and were joined by Squadron Leader Lowe and his three crew members. Bad weather intervened and prevented the mines being planted. Both Mitchell and Forsyth returned to base safely, but Squadron Leader Lowe (piloting L4043) and crew were experiencing severe difficulties. Squadron Leader Lowe reported the following:

"We did not lay our mines due to bad weather which rapidly deteriorated on the way home. I was having trouble with all my flying instruments but the compass and turn and bank indicators were still working. Eventually we managed to make contact with Hemswell and they gave us a bearing which proved to be inaccurate. Shortly after crossing the coast an aerodrome was sighted flashing a red 'D'. We were unable to get a response so decided to send an 'SOS' on the Aldis lamp... again nothing happened... we then fired a red Very light and this time searchlights came on to the north of us."

Squadron Leader Lowe made for the searchlights with the intention of being 'brought in' by them. One engine then packed up but they managed to maintain height on one. When this engine started to spit and cough the captain offered his crew the option to bale out... none wished to jump. The aircraft was rapidly becoming uncontrollable and the captain decided to force land on the coastline; the pilot continues:

"I instructed the crew to collect in the compartment behind the pilot’s seat. I held off as long as possible but the aircraft swung violently towards the cliffs and rocks below. I managed to correct this slightly, but not enough to clear a line of rocks running out into the sea. When I was holding off and practically stalling, I pulled the nose up and landed on a tail slide with very little speed."

Pilot Officer Anthony Bryan-Smith was attempting to join the other two members of the crew amidships when the aircraft landed. He was only half-way through the rear door and was killed instantaneously. The navigator, Pilot Officer Beauchamp received slight cuts on the hand, the Wireless/Op, AC.1 Appleton bumped his head and was slightly concussed and the pilot escaped with a cut lip.

The Hampden crashed at about 04.00 hours on the beach near Ryhope, County Durham, three miles south of Sunderland.

Crew of Hampden L4043
Squadron Leader Lowe (Pilot) (Injured)
Pilot Officer Beachamp (Navigator) (Injured)
Corporal Appleton (Wireless/Op) (Injured)
Pilot Officer Anthony Bryan-Smith (Air Gunner, aged 28, service number 76003) (Killed)

Pilot officer Bryan-Smith was buried at Hylton (Castletown) Cemetery, Sunderland. The remaining three crew were taken to hospitals in Ryhope and Sunderland for treatment.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 23)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/143;

Revision history:

07-Aug-2018 00:46 Dr.John Smith Added
28-Oct-2018 20:10 Nepa Updated [Time, Operator, Operator]
08-Jun-2019 19:39 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
08-Jun-2019 19:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
08-Jun-2019 20:02 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
08-Jun-2019 21:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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