A.W. Whitley LA837

Hills of Cromdale, Cairngorms

 
     
 
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Aircraft Type Photo

 

BELOW: An A.W. Whitley Mk.V.

 

a whitley mark 5 aircraft in flight.

 

Photo: Source unknown.

 


 

BELOW: Another Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley bomber.

 

a twin engine whitley bomber.

 

Photo: c.1940

 

This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Type and Background

 

RAF Armstrong Whitworth AW.38 Whitley V /  LA837

 


 

(Click here for RAF history of this type)

 

Aircraft Type Designation: AW.38 (Front line medium bomber.)

 

 

The Whitley was an all-metal monoplane and medium-heavy bomber, fitted with two engines. Initially, these were Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX (later reverting to VIII) engines. However, from the Whitley Mk IV, these were superseded by the more powerful Rolls Royce Merlin X piston engines.

 

The Whitley bomber entered service with the RAF in 1937 and was withdrawn in 1945. The aircraft carried a crew of four (six on the Mark VII).

 

Improvements to the Whitley Mark V included a Nash and Thomson powered tail turret with four 7.7mm (0.303in) machine guns, an extended rear fuselage to improve the tail gunner's view, and de-icing equipment.

 

The Whitley Mark V could carry up to 3,178kg (7,000lbs) of bombs distributed between the bomb bay and wing racks. It had a range of 2,654km (1,650 miles) and could fly at 357km/h (222mph).

 

Due to heavy losses and the introduction of more powerful 4-engine bombers, the Whitley was withdrawn from front-line service and allocated to Coastal Command. The Mark VII variant of the Whitley was equipped with ASV (Air to Surface Vessel) Mk II radar and proved effective in its role as a reconnaissance aircraft.

 

Some Whitley Mark V bombers were converted to freight-carrying aircraft operated by BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation). Flying at night, they ferried essential supplies between Gibraltar and Malta, until replaced by the more fuel-efficient Lockheed Hudsons.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Accident Details

 

On 31st January 1943, Whitley LA837 of 19 OTU took off from RAF Kinloss on a night navigation exercise (Navex). During the exercise, however, contact with the aircraft was lost. Subsequently, it was discovered that the Whitley had crashed on the Hills of Cromdale not far from Carn a Ghille Chear.

 

Four airmen died in this incident. (One survived initially, but died later). The fifth member of the crew survived, but with injuries.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Crew Casualties / Survivor

 

 

Of the five crew members aboard this aicraft, four died at the time of the accident and one shortly after. These were:

 

  • Sgt Peter William Barrett (20), 1425570, Pilot, RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section A, Row K, Grave 43, Beverley (St Mary) Church Cemetery, Beverley, Yorkshire.)


  •  

  • P/O Sidney John Stenning (20), 129370, Obs., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Row B, Grave 50, Kinloss Abbey Burial Ground, Kinloss, Moray.)


  •  

  • Sgt Joseph Raymond Charles Rugeroni-Hope (20), 1387054, RAFVR.
    (Survived crash initially, but died of injuries sustained a few days later.
    Buried, Section O, Grave 148, Edinburgh (Mount Vernon) Roman Catholic Cemetery.)


  •  

  • Sgt John Douglas (23), 980831, W.op/Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section F, Grave 843, Glasgow (Riddrie Park) Cemetery.)

 

 

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

 

 

One crew member survived this incident (with injuries). He was:

    Sgt A P Wilson , RAFVR.

 

 

 

 

Crash Site Photos

 

Wreckage Location (based on David McRonald's notes).


This aircraft is located on the side of the northern Cromdale hills. The wreck site is at the top of the Allt na Ha burn at c. NJ 140 295. There are a number of deep peat hags, one of which holds what is left of the aircraft.

 


 

BELOW: Part of the wreckage from AW Whitley LA837 lying on the Hill of Cromdale in Cairngorms National Park

 

wreckage from whitley la837 on hills of cromdale, cairngorms.

 

Photo: © 2014 David McRonald

 


 

BELOW: Engine bearers, undercarriage strut and other sections of wreckage.

 

tubular sections among the wreckage.

 

Photo: © 2014 David McRonald

 


 

BELOW: Part of shock absorbing strut from the undercarriage.

 

possibly, part of shock-absorbing strut.

 

Photo: © 2014 David McRonald

 


 

BELOW: Possibly, part of the Whitley's rudder hinge control mechanism (twin tailplane).

 

part of rudder hinge control mechanism.

 

Photo: © 2014 David McRonald

 


 

BELOW: More aluminium panels and tubular sections from the Whitley aircraft.

 

Most aircraft used tubular material for the construction of the wing spars. However, the A.W. Whitley's main wings were constructed using box spars, connected to corrugated spar webbing. This was significantly different in appearance to the tubular wing spar arrangement.

 

more aluminium and tubular wreckage.

 

Photo: © 2014 David McRonald

 


 

BELOW: A close up view of part of the wreckage.

 

close up view of part of wreckage.

 

Photo: © 2014 David McRonald

 

 

 


 

 

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Crash Date / Site

 

 

Accident Date: 31 Jan / 1 Feb 1943

 

Accident Site:

Carn a’ Ghillie Chearr , Hills of Cromdale

(Strathspey / Strath Avon)

 

Nearest road: B9136.

 

Region: Moray

 

Nearest town or village:

Tomintoul (SE) or Cromdale (W)

 

Nearest large town: Grantown-on-Spey (W).

 

OS Grid Ref. NJ 140 295

 

GPS Ref. N/A

 

Present Condition: Much of the wreckage was removed by RAF recovery teams. However, some undercarriage and other parts remain at the site but may be difficult to locate among the peat hags (See note under Crash Site Photos).

 

 

 

Aircraft Details

 

 

Registration or Serial: LA837

 

Operator: RAF (19 Operational Training Unit (19 OTU)).

 

Operating Station: RAF Kinloss (now, Kinloss Barracks).

 

Satellite Station for RAF Kinloss: RAF Forres (or Balnageith).

 

Station Location: (RAF Kinloss) Kinloss, Moray.

 

Current Airport Status:

RAF operations ceased in 2012. Now, Kinloss (Army) Barracks.

 


 

Note: Following the closure of RAF Leuchars in 2013, RAF Lossiemouth (near Kinloss) is now the only remaining operational RAF Station in Scotland.

 

 

 

Related Links

 

 

RAF and Related Links

19 OTU Memorial. (See also here.)

Memorial to crew of Whitley LA837 at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. (See also here.)

Forces Reunited: RAF Forres (Balnageith).

RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley (History).

RAF History: Forres.

Unit History: RAF Forres.

 

Other Link

 

The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley at UBI.com (forum).

 

 

Route Planning Link

 

Route to Carn a’Ghillie Chearr (710m). (With photos of the route leading to the crash site.)

 

 

 

Hill Walking Links

 

(Hillwalking and Mountaineering)

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

Walking Scotland's Mountains

 


 

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