Spitfire Mk.Vb AR403

Wedderlie Ho., Westruther, Borders













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW:  A Spitfire Mk.Vb (replica). The Mark Vb is the type of Spitfire featured on this page.


a spitfire mark 5b replica


Photo 2009 Rodhullandemu


Released by the author to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



BELOW: A later model of the Supermarine Spitfire.


 This Mk.XVI variant was photographed taking part in an air show at Duxford in September 2006.


spitfire mk xvi at duxford in september 2006


Photo: 2006 Taken by Chowells, Noise reduction and shadows lifted by Diliff. Original image here.


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb / AR403



Aircraft Type Nickname: "The Spit".

Designed by R J Mitchell, the elliptical-winged Supermarine Spitfire was one of the most capable and effective fighters of WWII. It was produced in a number of variants, and with different power plants and armaments. The Spitfire was considered a high performing, agile and stable fighter platform. Ultimately, 20,000 Spitfires and Sea Spitfires (or 'Seafires'; the naval variant) were produced.

The Spitfire first entered service with the RAF at Duxford in August, 1938, and many subsequent variants were produced.

During the Battle of Britain, Mk I Spitfires were outnumbered by Hawker Hurricanes. Nevertheless, the Spitfires were usually considered as the most deadly aircraft in the skies above Britain.

The Mark II Spitfire was equipped with a Rolls-Royce Merlin XII engine of 1,175hp. The Mark IIA variant was fitted with eight .303in machine guns.



BELOW: RAF Spitfires in flight


raf spitfires in flight


Photo: As a work of the U.S. Federal Government, the image is in the public domain.






Aircraft Accident Details                      


Flown by Sgt Malcolm Robertson, a New Zealand pilot, Spitfire AR403 of 65 Squadron was on a training flight over southern Scotland. The exercise was to practice climbing and aerobatic manoeuvres.


However, during one of these manoeuvres, the Spitfire was reported to have dived vertically out of cloud. It crashed into the grounds of Wedderlie House, catching fire on impact.


Wedderlie House is in the village of Westruther near Greenlaw.






Aircraft Pilot Casualty


The pilot who died in this accident was:


(Please click on the hyperlinked name above for more details at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's website.)



Photo and more details here at Auckland War Memorial Museum.





Sgt  Robertson was laid to rest at Craigton Cemetery, Glasgow.


In 2012, and following expert anthropological examination, further human remains found at the crash site were identified as belonging to Sgt Robertson. These remains were reinterred at Sgt Robertson's grave in Glasgow (Craigton Cemetery) in 2013.


[This information was kindly provided by Scott McIntosh.]






Crash Site Related Photos


Renewed Search and Recovery Operation


BELOW: In 2012, forensic scientists and other specialists carried out a renewed search and recovery operation at the crash site.


The human remains found during this recovery were later identified as belonging to the Pilot, Sgt. Malcolm Robertson.


lothians and borders police photo handout of 2012 recovery


Photo: 2012, Lothian and Borders Police.





















Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 16 Jan 1943


Accident Site:

Wedderlie House (grounds) [map]


Region: Scottish Borders


Nearest town or village:

Westruther or Greenlaw.


Nearest large towns: Berwick on Tweed (E).


OS Grid Ref: N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: The crash site underwent renewed excavation and forensic examination in 2012. Further human remains found were identified later as belonging to the pilot.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: AR403


Operator:  RAF (65 Squadron)


Operating Station: RAF Drem

 (Gullane / West Fenton)


Station Location: Drem, N. Berwick, E. Lothian, Scotland.


Current Station Status: Closed 1946. See also nearby support airfield at East Fortune; now, National Museum of Flight.





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