H.P. Halifax JP190

Craik Forest, Hawick, Borders













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: An RCAF Handley Page Halifax bomber in flight. This is an earlier variant of the type featured below.


an RCAF Halifax bomber in flight


Photo: Pre 1949. Public domain.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Handley Page Halifax Mk II / JP190



(Click here for RAF history of this type)


The original design of this aircraft was for a twin-engine bomber using Rolls-Royce Vulture engines. However, during development, the plans were altered to produce a four-engine aircraft using the more powerful R-R Merlin X engines.


The Mk I version of the Halifax was equipped with two .303 Browning machine guns in the nose turret, with another two in the centre of the fuselage and four in the rear turret. In the Mk II series—the variant featured here—the nose turret guns and the guns in the fuselage waist area were deleted. A Boulton Paul twin-gun turret was installed in the dorsal position to replace the waist guns.


In time, other versions and variants followed with greater improvements.


Equipped to carry a crew of seven, the Halifax entered service with RAF Bomber Command in 1940.






Aircraft Accident Details


Halifax JP190 took off from RAF Lindholme, Yorkshire at around 20:00 hours for a cross country Navigation exercise over the Scottish Borders. At around 20:30 hours the aircraft was witnessed flying in a westerly direction by a farmer in the village of Craik, reportedly with an engine on fire. Shortly after passing over the village the aircraft was seen to dive into the hillside and explode in a ball of flames.


The farmer and a colleague set off in the direction of the crash, and discovered the shattered remains of the Halifax on a hillside 800m (c. ½ mile) from his farm. Five bodies were also discovered.


The next day a local Police unit and personnel from RAF Charterhall climbed to the site [on the slopes of Muckle Knowe], and located a further 3 bodies.



(The information in this Panel and in the Panel below was kindly provided by Alan Thomson.)






Aircraft Crew Casualties


The airmen who died in this accident were:


  • F/O Ronald Emerson (Pat). Ross (31), M.B.E., M.M., Pilot, RAF.
    (Buried, Section A, Grave 281, Chester (Blacon) Cemetery, Cheshire.)

  • Sgt Brian Atkinson Bell (19), Flt Engr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section V, Grave 259, Leeds (Lawnswood) Cemetery.)

  • F/O John Birkett (22), Air Bomber, RAFVR.
    (Commemorated at Panel 8, Manchester Crematorium.)

  • Flt Sgt Peter Burchell (21), Navigator, RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section G.8, Grave 6843, Battersea New Cemetery (Morden), Surrey.)

  • Sgt Cyril Farthing (22), Flt Engr., RAFVR
    (Buried, Section 116, Row E, Grave 13, Grimsby (Scartho Road) Cemetery, Lincoln.)

  • Sgt John Grimes Hinder (21), Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Block 3, Grave 5408, Reading (Henley Road) Cemetery, Oxford.)

  • Sgt Harold William Simpson (23), W/Op / Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, General Section, Grave 5820, Burton upon Trent Cemetery, Staffordshire.)

  • Sgt Herbert Smith (27), Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section H.13, Grave 164, Oldham (Hollinwood) Cemetery, Lancashire.)





Memorial Wall and Plaque



memorial wall and plaque.


Photo: © Copyright ronnie leask and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence



Memorial Plaque to Air Crash for NT3407


Situated at the car park at Craik Forest this memorial reads,


"In memory of the crew of Halifax MK II JP190
which crashed here on the night of 1st April 1944 with the loss of all 8 crew.


Flying Officer Ronald E. Ross + Sergeant Harold W. Simpson


Flying Officer John Birkett + Sergeant Cyril Farthing


Sergeant Peter Burchell + Sergeant John D. Hinder


Sergeant Brian A. Bell + Sergeant Herbert Smith



Erected 1st April 1994 by Nos 2463 (Currie and Balerno) Squadron, 1007 (Duns) Squadron Air Training Corps
and the Forestry Commission  






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: A wing section from Halifax JP190.


The Halifax crashed on the slopes of Muckle Knowe, close to Wolfcleughhead.


halifax jp190 wing section.


Photo: © 1979-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Sections of wreckage have been heaped together, as seen here.


wreckage heaped together.


Photo: © 1979-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Another view of the fragmented wreckage.


more fragmented wreckage.


Photo: © 1979-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Such is the damage to the airframe, that it is difficult to identify individual parts of the Halifax.


unidentified parts.


Photo: © 1979-2014 Alan Thomson



BELOW: Another view of the collected debris.


another view of collected debris.


Photo: © 1979-2014 Alan Thomson








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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 1 Apr 1944


Accident Site:

Craik Forest (Muckle Knowe by Wolfcleuchhead)


NOTE: The crew memorial plaque is at the car park, not the crash site.


Region: Scottish Borders

Nearest town or village: Hawick


Nearest large town:

Hawick (N)


OS Grid Ref: N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Unknown.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: JP190


Operator: RAF (1656 Heavy Conversion Unit)


Squadron Code:


Operating Station: RAF Lindholme.


Station Location: Lindholme, South Yorkshire, England.


Current Station Status: RAF Station closed. Airfield grounds sold in 1985. Now, HMP Lindholme.




Related Links



RAF and Related Links

1656 HCU

RAF Handley Page Halifax (History)

RAF Lindholme (Unit History)



Other Links

Craik Forest village and map.

Craik Forest Woodland Walks (with directions to Craik Forest.)

Craik Forest and Wolfcleughhead Waterfall.




Hill Walking Links



(Hillwalking, Rock Climbing, Abseiling, Mountaineering, Kayaking, etc.)


England (North Cumbria / Lake District)

David Hall - Lake District Walks at walkthefells.net (Includes map for Great Carrs together with photos of memorial)

Lake District Walks (Down-loadable GPS data for walks)

Outdoor Activities (Cumbria / The Lake District)

Summitreks (Adventure Activities, Outdoor Courses, Activity Breaks, and more in the Lake District and Cumbria)

Striding Edge (A photo diary of Lake District Fell Walks)

Walking in Cumbria





WalkingScotland (The official Walking site of Scotland's national tourism organisation)

Walking Scotland's Mountains




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