Vickers Wellington MF509

Vickers Wellington MF509

Often overlooked by history are the thousands of Commonwealth airmen that lost their lives in training accidents, killed before they had reached the many battles of World War Two. Like the bomber campaign itself, aircrew training was indiscriminate in its victims. Old and young, experienced and inexperienced became casualties of the massive training structure that was created to provide a steady flow of aircrew to operational squadrons.

Vickers Wellington BomberOperational Training Units (OTUs) and Heavy Conversion Units (HCUs) were the final stages of training for the airmen in the pipeline for Bomber Command. Training could be very hazardous as fledgling crews flew together in aircraft that were cast-offs from operational squadrons and in some cases very worse forwear from battle damage. Mechanical failures were common, when coupled with crews that were inexperienced the consequences were often deadly.

Nestled on the western rocky slopes of Carreg Coch, above Dan yr Ogof caves in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, lies the wreckage of Wellington bomber, MF509.

On the night of November 20, 1944. MF509, a Vickers Wellington MK10, took off from Stratford-Upon-Avon, satellite airfield to RAF Wellesbourne Mountford (22 Operational Training Unit) at 19.26 hours for a night cross country navigation training exercise.

Shortly before 20.50 hrs the crew sent a radio message asking permission to go below cloud as they were having trouble with the starboard engine, perhaps due to icing in the carburettor. Permission was granted and as they descended over the mountains of the Brecon Beacons their aircraft flew into the South West slope of Carreg Goch. All six crewman were killed.

With the help of local people from Craig y Nos, the RAF rescue team reached the site that night and removed the bodies. The aircrew lost in the crash on Carreg Goch were:

PILOT - Sgt CHARLES HAMEL
NAVIGATOR - Sgt JULES ROBERT RENE VILLENEUVE
BOMB AIMER - F/Off WILLIAM JOSEPH ALLISON
W/Op/AIR GUNNER - Sgt JOSEPH PAUL ERNEST BURKE
AIR GUNNER - Sgt ARTHUR GROUIX
AIR GUNNER - Sgt GERARD DUSABLON

MF509 was one of three Wellington bombers from 22 OTU lost that night, all with starboard engine problems; Canadian pilot P/O Nezan managed to crash land Wellington MF505 at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford with none of the crew being injured.

Wellington LN460 had less luck. A fire broke out in the starboard engine nacelle which could not be extinguished. Three of the crew were able to bale out, but the 3 Canadian crewmen remaining went down with their aircraft which crashed in a huge explosion on farmland south of Evesham.


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