Mystery Mitchell Crash Summer 1944

Bill Allom has asked for some more information on a number of incidents at Dunsfold during 1944 that don’t appear in our limited records.  Bills father was stationed at Dunsfold with 180 Sqdn.

1 – The first is about a Mitchell FL 217 that crashed on landing on 20/6/1944. Bill states: I think this date is correct my ORB copy is poor and hard to read”

2 – The second query:   Bill says:  ” My father returned on a mission with the hydraulics shot out. While the ORB does not indicate the plane crashed on landing it appears to never fly again.   This occurred on 24/7/1944 in Mitchell FW 185.  Dad records 40 hits a/c badly holed, hydraulics shot up. Could the undercarriage still be lowered with damaged hydraulics?   I am unable to confirm if this aircraft returned to service or was written off.  I hope you can help solve these mysteries.”

3 – Lastly an unidentified aircraft that is shown in three photographs from Bill’s fathers collection.  It is assumed his father is seen on top of the crashed aircraft.  Bill states:  “These 3 photos are of a crashed Mitchell with the invasion stripes on it so it must have occurred post 6/6/1944 and before Sept 1944 when my father left 180 Sqd.”

If you can assist with any information on these three incidents please do contact us or post a comment at the bottom of this page.

Crashed Mitchell Summer 1944 Photo copyright Bill Allom
Crashed Mitchell Summer 1944 Photo copyright Bill Allom

9 Replies to “Mystery Mitchell Crash Summer 1944”

  1. It’s fairly clear from the third image that the starboard engine has been torn away from it’s mountings and I would expect the main wing spar to be consequently buckled. It seems unlikely there would be time to fit and trim new wings to an aircraft in the Summer of 1944. I can imagine that the aircraft would have been cannibalised for spares, rather than returned to service.

  2. Nobby,

    I agree they wouldn’t have even thought about repairing that aircraft; the good thing is it looks likely they could all walk away from it.

    Re lowering the gear with hydraulics out I’m sure the B-25 would have an emergency undercarriage lowering system of some kind, either a wind-down with a handle or simple drop-down; the question is how it was confirmed locked after doing this, maybe by inserting a pin or rod.

    – modern aircraft usually have nitrogen bottles to blow down the gear in this situation –

    I recently joined the B-25 Appreciation Society so will ask them; being in the U.S. there may be a while before anyone is up and about to answer.

    1. Hi
      The Mitchell had a hand pumped back up system but I suspect this was for an hydraulic pump failure
      The pump is located in the navigators space
      Not sure if the drop method would work but will be interested to find out what the us experts have to say
      Bill allom

  3. I saw the end of documentary on the TV channel Yesterday about a mystery crash which I think was at Dunsfold Airport in 1944. I would like to get more information on the story of the solving of the mystery of the crash – i.e. the Yesterday documentary story. Unfortunately I only saw the ending part and I am not clear about the whole story.
    Can you help me in locating more about this story.

    Thanking you in anticipation

  4. Hi Flannan,

    There are a number of crashes on the airfield and in the immediate surrounds. Without any details it is impossible to guess which one you refer to. Can you google a transcript of the TV programme? Can you describe the circumstances, aircraft, squadron, location, incident?

  5. I’m trying to find out information on Squadron Leader J L Griffith DFC 180 squadron. Burried at Kirdford church West Sussexdied 24th July 1944 aged 26. I assume as hes burried locally he died as a result of an accident in a Mitchell at or near Dunsfold.

    1. 180 Squadron Operations Records Book Summary for 24 July 1944 notes: “In the evening we attacked the woods close to our Army lines at La Hogue; heavy flak was encountered and five of our aircraft sustained damage, one of them bringing back casualties: W/CMDR N. de W. Boult AFC wounded and F/L A.G. Burgess wounded, S/LDR J.D. Griffith the co-pilot was killed. In spite of his wounds, the pilot assisted by his Navigator who was also wounded severely, brought the aircraft back to Tangmere and made a perfect belly landing on the runway.”

  6. Re Bill Allom’s questions on crashes:
    20 Jun 44 – FL217 (USAAF serial 41-12804) returned, according to 180 Squadron ORB Summary, with flak damaged hydraulics and landed without casualties. This was a fairly common occurrence; undercarriage was pumped down using crank and a lot of arm power. This aircraft returned to service and survived the war to be struck off charge (probably scrapped) on 05 Jun 47.
    The crew for FL217 on that operation was:
    W/O H.L. Pilkington (Pilot)
    F/S K.F. Tilson (Observer)
    Sgt R.N. Lamb (Wireless op/Air Gunner)
    F/S G.F. James (Air Gunner)

    24 Jul 44 – FW185 (USAAF serial 43-3391) there is no note of damages in the Operations Records Book and I cannot find it’s fate in US records. The best way to find out is an email to the RAF Museum where RAF aircraft movement records are kept: ask them for the ‘Air Ministry Form 78’ card for FW185; there is no charge for that service; it can be emailed or posted to you.
    The crew for FW185 on that op was:
    F/L F.J. Bitz (Pilot)
    F/S C.C. Allom (Observer)
    W/O V.A. Higgins (WAG)
    F/S T.G. Bell (AG)

    As for the crashed Mitchell in the photos; there is no ID visible, so it’s virtually impossible to determine what happened without a date or witness accounts.

  7. Can you help, or put me in the right direction?
    My father Reginald William Hyson never spoke much about WW11.
    He was a flight lieutenant in Squadron 180. (1944/1945).
    He was in the Caterpillar Club. His Squadron flew mainly
    Mitchell 11 & 111. aircraft.
    His flying officer was, in most cases, Pilot McDonald.
    Many thanks,

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