A.W. Whitley LA792

Aviemore/Boat of Garten, Cairngorms













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 /  LA792 UO-C (or possibly, UO-G)



(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 However, from the Whitley Mk IV, these were superseded by the more powerful Rolls Royce Merlin X piston engines.


The Whitley bomber entered service with the RAF in 1937 and was withdrawn in 1945.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Due to heavy losses and the introduction of more powerful 4-engine bombers, the Whitley was withdrawn from front-line service and allocated to Coastal Command.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 6th October 1943, Whitley LA792 of 19 OTU took off at 19:25hrs from Kinloss for a night exercise.


At 20.47, F/O Dallimore called to say that he was returning to base as the port engine had failed. ETA was 20.52.


At 22.30 it was announced that the Whitley had crashed and exploded on impact near Boat of Garten.



(Above details based on data kindly provided by Alan Leishman.)






Aircraft Crew Casualties



All six members of the crew died in this accident. These were:


  • F/O Clifford Stephen Dallimore (24), Pilot, RAFVR.
    (Buried, New ground, Row 14, Grave 10, Malpas (St Mary) Churchyard, Monmouthshire.)


  • Sgt John Edgar Melrose Gess (34), Nav., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section F, Grave 873, Leeds (Armley) Cemetery.)


  • Sgt John Gerard Kelly (30), Nav./Bomber, RAFVR.
    (Buried, Ward 13, Section P, R.C. Grave 48, Carlisle (Dalston Road) Cemetery.)


  • Sgt Donald Cawthorne (21), W.op/Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section K, Grave 522, Salisbury (London Road) Cemetery, Wiltshire.)


  • Sgt William Robert Coster (28), Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Grave Reference, Grave 17291. (Screen Wall, Panel 3), East London Cemetery, Plaistow, Essex.)


  • Sgt Christopher Jack Haycock , Air Gnr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, N.W. Corner, Milton Ernest (All Saints) Churchyard, Bedfordshire.)



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







Crash Site Photos


BELOW: The general area where Whitley LA792 is reported to have crashed.


Previously, there were some oxygen bottles beside the fence (left). However, the fence appears to have been renewed and there was no sign of the oxygen bottles on this occasion.


the general area where Whitley LA792 is reported to have crashed.


Photo: © 2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: Oxygen bottles found here on a previous occasion.


Note the proximity of the fence in the background.


oxygen bottles.


Photo: © 2014 Alan Leishman



BELOW: This crumpled piece of aluminium was the only part found in this area.


This crumpled piece of aluminium was the only part found in this area.


Photo: © 2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW (next 3 photos): The only other part found was in a steep gully, which is on the right of the first photo shown above.


This gully carries the Allt Chapach burn down the lower slopes of Beinn Ghuilbin.


only other part in deep gulley 1.





only other part in deep gulley 2.





only other part in deep gulley 3.


Above photos: © 2014 Gary Nelson
















BELOW: The area of the crash from further up the hill.


Loch Vaa can just be seen, the A9 and Kinveachy Lodge are hidden in the trees between the bottom of this slope and the Loch.


The area of the crash from further up the hill.


Above photos: © 2014 Gary Nelson



An alternative way to reach the wrecksite: Boat of Garten Station on the Strathspey steam railway, just a couple of miles from Beinn Ghuilbin.


BELOW: An ex British Railways (BR) Ivatt class locomotive 46512 named E.V. Cooper Engineer, standing at Boat of Garten station.


Operated by the Strathspey Steam Railway, this train travels between Aviemore, Boat of Garten, and Broomhill. It is one of several heritage railways around the country.


An Ivatt class locomotive and coaches at Boat of Garten station.


Photo: © 2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: Boat of Garten station car park. (Shared with the historic rolling stock!)



boat of Garten car park.


Photo: © 2014 Gary Nelson



BELOW: arachnids!


This forest where the Whitley crash is located is rife with spiders' webs and large anthills. As with the Warwick wreck in Culbin Forest, caution is needed when sitting down to eat sandwiches!


spiders in abundance!


Photo: © 2014 Gary Nelson







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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 6 Oct 1943


Accident Site:

Aviemore / Boat of Garten
(in vicinity of Beinn Ghuilbin, Strathspey.


Nearest road: A9.


Region: Highland (Cairngorms)


Nearest towns or villages:

Aviemore (S) or Boat of Garten (E)


Nearest larger towns: Grantown-on-Spey (NE) or Kingussie (SW).


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref. N/A


Present Condition: A few small pieces of wreckage remain near the crash site.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: LA792 coded either UO-C or UO-G


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.





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