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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 227842
Last updated: 2 December 2021
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Date:23-MAY-1940
Time:04:00 LT
Type:Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Owner/operator:83 Squadron Royal Air Force (83 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L4055
MSN: VN-B
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Cliff Road, Black Hill, 4 miles South of Holmfirth, West Yorkshir -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Handley Page Hampden Mk.I L4055 (VN-B) of 83 Squadron, RAF Scampton: Written off (destroyed) when flew into high ground in fog when returning from a bombing raid on railway targets in Mönchengladbach, Germany. All four crew on board killed. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/484): "Hampden L4055 crashed near Huddersfield on return from an operational flight, 23 May 1940. Aircraftman 2nd Class W Thornton, Sergeant P W Josse, Sergeant A Marsh and Sergeant S W Jenkins: report of deaths".

At around 21:00hrs on 22nd May 1940 this 83 Squadron aircraft was pone of five that took off from RAF Scampton for an operational flight to Germany, L4055 is believed to have been attacking railway targets in Mönchengladbach, in advance of the German invasion of Belgium and France. All the aircraft on operational flights on this night were recalled because of deteriorating weather over the English airfields but L4055 and one other aircraft failed to receive the recall signal and went on to bomb the target.

As the aircraft returned to Northern England the weather closed in, and while flying in thick fog the aircraft crashed on return to the UK at around 04:00 hrs on high ground near Holmfirth towards the northern end of the Peak District. It had crashed a mile from where Swordfish P4223 crashed some months earlier.

In his "Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks 2" book Mr Ron Collier adds further information; the weather over the target was poor and this crew brought their bombs home having found nothing worthwhile to bomb, at this stage in the War crews were still bringing their bombs home if they could not identify the target, later in the War crews usually dropped them at sea.

On the return trip other 83 Squadron aircrews were diverted to airfields in Norfolk because of poor weather in Lincolnshire but the wireless set of this aircraft had failed during the return leg and they were not aware of the poor weather which would await them. After flying above cloud for some period of time the crew opted to descend and try and find an airfield. The aircraft let down in the Holmfirth area and unknown to the crew they soon struck high ground at Black Hill, 4 miles South of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, and 6 miles from Huddesfield. All four crew were killed in the crash. Of note is that Guy Gibson was flying with 83 Squadron on this night (later awarded the VC with 617 Squadron).

Pretty much all that remains at the crash site of L4055 today is a large crater made as a result of one of the bombs being disposed of in the weeks after the crash. (L4055 failed to find the target, and therefore did not drop its bombs) Of the four airmen killed, Mr Collier's book pictures three of them, the four man crew of Hampden L4055 were..

Pilot - Sgt Stanley William Jenkins RAF (580289), aged 23, of Rotherham, Yorkshire. Buried Nettleham Old Churchyard, Lincolnshire.
Navigator - Sgt Peter William Josse RAF (359518). Of Yorkshire. Buried Nettleham Old Churchyard, Lincolnshire. Observer - Sgt Alan Marsh RAF (580966). Buried Bolsover Churchyard, Derbyshire.
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner - AC.1 Willie Thornton RAF (625669), aged 19, of St Helens. Buried St Helens Cemetery, Lancashire.

Very little wreckage exists at the crash site, as the Hampden had unexploded bombs on board; these were blown up by the Royal Engineers UXB squad shortly after the crash, which also blew a hole in a nearby dry stone wall on Cliff Road. (That in itself is a clue to the crash location). What little wreckage remained thereafter has been ploughed into the ground over the years.

Hampden L4055 was built to contract 549267/36 by Handley Page Ltd. at Radlett and was awaiting collection in September 1938. It was flown into MU storage where it remained until being issued to 83 Squadron at Scampton in November of that year when the unit began converting from Hinds to Hampdens. It moved with this unit to Lossiemouth on 21st February 1940 and returned with the unit to Scampton on 20th March 1940. Following the accident as detailed above Cat.W/FB(Burnt) damage was recorded and the aircraft was written off.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 23)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File Air 81/484: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14502186
3. Aircraft Wrecks: The Walker's Guide : Historic Crash Sites on the Moors By Nick Wotherspoon, Alan Clark, Mark Sheldon (p 117)
4. https://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/crash_sites/peak-district/handley-page-hampden-l4055-holmfirth/
5. http://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-crash-sites-5/hampden-l4055-holme-west-yorkshire/
6. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york40/l4055.html
7. https://peakwreckhunters.blogspot.com/2007/12/handley-page-hampden-mki-l4055.html
8. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2358792/jenkins,-stanley-william/
9. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2358793/josse,-peter-william/
10. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2701974/marsh,-alan/
11. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2700224/thornton,-willie/
12. http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/83_squadron.html#222305


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
02-Aug-2019 22:37 Dr. John Smith Added
04-Aug-2019 11:33 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]

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