A.W. Whitley Z9156

Relaquheim, Glen Ernan, Aberdeens.













Aircraft Type Photo


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


a.w. whitley mark v


Photo: Source unknown.



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


Armstrong Whitworth 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 /  Z9156



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 However, from the Whitley Mk IV, these were superseded by the more powerful Rolls Royce Merlin X piston engines.


The Whitley bomber entered service with the RAF in 1937 and was withdrawn in 1945.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Due to heavy losses and the introduction of more powerful 4-engine bombers, the Whitley was withdrawn from front-line service and allocated to Coastal Command.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


RAF Whitley Z9156 of 19 OTU took off from Kinloss at 1827hrs on a night navigation sortie. At 2316hrs messages were exchanged with Renfrew.


Whilst flying at 8,000 feet, 30 mins later, the port engine failed. All the crew bailed out. The pilot, Sgt A R Kelner, suffered a broken ankle. Sadly, the rear gunner died after bailing out.


The pilot, and other crew members then managed to make their way to the nearby steading of Relaquhiem. There, the sole occupant of this croft provided them with directions to find help.


On the 10th of February the Whitley was found 1 mile NNW of Edinglassie [in Glen Ernan]. Apart from a smashed undercarriage the aircraft was not damaged.






Aircraft Crew Casualty / Survivors


The crew member who died was:

  • Sgt Sydney Bellis (20), Air Gnr. (rear), RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section D. C of E, Grave 1021, Bebington Cemetery, Cheshire. )

Sgt Bellis' body was found on the 16 March 1943.



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



The remaining crew survived. These were:


Sgt A R Kelner, Pilot.

Sgt. Armitage.

Sgt Tonkin.

Sgt Archibald.


[Most of the information in the above two Panels was kindly provided by Alan Leishman.]






Crash Site Photos


At the moment, there are no photos of this crash site.






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Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 9 Feb 1943


Accident Site:

Relaquheim / Edinglassie   [map] (vicinity of), Glen Ernan.


Nearest road: A939 or A944.


Region: Aberdeenshire(Strathdon)


Nearest town, village or hamlet:

Strathdon (NE)


Nearest large town or city: Aberdeen (E).


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref. N/A


Present Condition: RAF recovery teams removed the bulk of the wreckage. Any remaining wreckage status is unknown.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: Z9156


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) will be the only remaining operational RAF Station in Scotland.




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