Bristol Blenheim V5815

Cumnock, East Ayrshire




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Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A Bristol Blenheim Mk I bomber in flight.


A Bristol Blenheim Mark I in flight


Photo: [pre-1949] Taken by a member of the Canadian armed forces. Now, in the public domain.



BELOW: A Bristol Bolingbroke (the Canadian-built variant of the Blenheim).


Note the longer nose on this variant, compared to the Mk I variant above. This longer nose was a feature of both the Canadian-built Bolingbrokes and the British-built Blenheim Mk IV'sthe latter being the type featured here.


A Bristol Bolingbroke - the Canadian-built equivalent of the Blenheim


Photo: [pre-1949] Original source unknown.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Bristol 142M Blenheim IV / V5815



(Click here for RAF history of this type)



Ordered and funded initially by Lord Rothermere, the civilian Bristol Type 142 was designed to meet this tycoon's requirements for a private 'executive' aircraft. However, it proved so successful in trials that the Air Ministry requested the use of this aircraft for further evaluation.


Lord Rothermere donated his aircraft (named, 'Britain First') to the nation, whereupon the RAF immediately began extensive trials with this type. Ultimately, Lord Rothermere's Type 142 was to become the Bristol Type 142M (Military) and designated the 'Blenheim.'


The Bristol Type 142 had first flown in 1935. The Type 142M ('M' for 'Military' version) entered service with the RAF in 1937.


By the time war broke out, most of the Mk I Blenheims had been replaced by Mk IV variants (and later the Mk V). The Mks IV and V were essentially the same airframe, but equipped with two Bristol Mercury XV radial engines (or later in the Mk V). The Mk IV also had an extended nose and some other modifications.


The bomber was equipped with one 7.7mm / 0.303in Browning machine gun (port wing), and one 7.7mm / 0.303in Vickers machine gun (dorsal turret). It had an internal bomb capacity of 454kg / 1,000lb.


Unfortunately, the Blenheim was no match for the fast Luftwaffe fighters. Despite heroic attempts by the RAF to help avert shipping losses in the North Sea, many of these Blenheim bombers were lost in combat. Ultimately, the Mk IV Blenheims were replaced by Douglas Bostons and de Havilland Mosquitoes.



BELOW: A Bristol Blenheim Mk IV cockpit on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.


Bristol Blenheim Mk IV cockpit at IWM Duxford


Photo: 2005 Mark Murphy. Released by the author to the public domain. (More details at Wikipedia)






Aircraft Accident Details


RAF Bristol Blenheim V5815 of No.3 Radio School was one of the aircraft used for training aircrew (Wireless Operaters or W/Ops) in the use of radio, radar and other electronic equipment.


However, while descending through cloud near west-central Scotland, the Blenheim struck the ground SW of the village of Cumnock in East Ayrshire. The aircraft was destroyed by the ensuing fire.






Aircraft Crew Casualties


The crew who died in this accident were:


  • Sgt John Norman Senior (20), 748662, Pilot, RAFVR. (See photo below.)
    (Buried, Section A, Row Q, Grave 75, Maidenhead Cemetery, Berkshire.)


  • Sgt Ronald Septimus Scott Aitken (26), 987469, W/Op./Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Ward 8, Section X, Grave 231, Carlisle (Dalston Road) Cemetery, Cumbria.)


  • Sgt Desmond Cyril Morrison(19), 924185, W/Op./Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Extn. Grave 22, Swindon (Christ Church) Burial Ground, Wiltshire.)


  • Sgt Denys Guy Sims (20), 958216, RAFVR.
    (Memorial: Panel Reference 52, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.)



Please click on the hyperlinked name above for further details at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.




BELOW: John 'Jack' Norman Senior as a schoolboy in Maidenhead (probably, early 1930's).


john senior as a schoolboy.


Photo: courtesy, Chris Morgan






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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 21 Mar 1941


Accident Site: Cumnock
(1.6km / 1 mile SW of)


Nearest roads: A76 or B7046


Region: East Ayrshire


Nearest town or village: Cumnock (NE)


Nearest large towns: Prestwick (W) or Ayr (W).


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Unknown.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: V5815


Operator: RAF (No.3 Radio School / (3 RS))


Operating Station: (Possibly detached from) RAF Compton Bassett.


Station Location : Lower Compton, Wiltshire, England.


Current Station Status: RAF operations ceased in the 1960's. Remaining Station housing sold to private buyers in the 1980's.


Current Location Name: Lower Compton.




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