Crash of two RAF B-25’s at “Pallinghurst” Rudgwick 7th Jan. 1944

Collision and crash of two RAF North American Mitchell II bombers at “Pallinghurst”, Guildford Rd, Rudgwick on 7th January 1944.

Compiled by Frank Phillipson with Acknowledgement to Rudgwick Preservation Soc.

Jan. 7th 13.35 hrs. North American Mitchell II, FR396, Code letter ‘K’ pilot F/O Fooks of 180 Squadron collided over Rudgwick, West Sussex with Mitchell II, FL682, Code letter ‘N’ pilot W/O Riordan of 98 Squadron. This occurred as they approached RAF Dunsfold in two separate 6 aircraft box formations in bad weather. They were returning having just bombed targets in Occupied France: –

180 Squadron on Primary Target a V1construction site at XI/A/93, La Sorellerie II” (No.16 Château du Pannelier, Brix)) at 12:58hrs from 12,000ft and

98 Squadron on Alternative Target (because of cloud over the Primary) a V1construction site at XI/A/41,Mesnil Au Val”(No.18 L’Orion) at 12:55hrs from 12,000ft.

Crew members of both aircraft were all killed.

Aircraft ‘FR396/K(Fooks) of 180 Squadron and ‘FL682/N‘ (Riordan) of 98 Squadron were not noted as having or not having dropped their bomb load. Aircraft ‘B’ and ‘X’ of 180 Sqdn. and aircraft ‘V’‘P’‘S’‘U’ and ‘X’ of 98 Sqdn. did not bomb due to cloud cover obscuring the target. Each aircraft carried 8 x 500lb Medium Capacity bombs.

An account of excavation of the two crash sites carried out in the 1990’s records that: – “Pieces (were) recovered from the area of what had been the orchard on the edge of the (lower) football pitch. This aircraft must have come down flat as it did not penetrate the ground to any depth, (and we) thought it had burnt on the surface. The other aircraft dived into the ground in front (north east) of the building (stables),(in the) area of the big bush (rhododendron), but (we) didn’t investigate as area had been landscaped”.

One Mitchell ‘FR396/K(Fooks) of 180 Squadron crashed in a fairly flat manner and burst into flames 200 yds south-east of “Pallinghurst” in an orchard. If still bombed up, its bombs may have fallen out as the aircraft descended and landed in a nearby field where they either exploded or were defused.  Otherwise they may have been retained within the aircraft and as there was seemingly no explosion with this aircraft when it hit the ground, were defused by RAF bomb disposal team after the crash.

The other Mitchell ‘FL682/N‘ (Riordan) of 98 Squadron dived straight into the ground 200 yds north-east of “Pallinghurst” on the County Boundary near the stables. The aircraft had probably not dropped its bomb load due to cloud cover obscuring the target. One or more bombs exploded, either when the aircraft hit the ground or fell out and exploded nearby as the aircraft descended. Other unexploded bombs were defused.

Witness: – Emily Harwood (nee Covey) b.1923, daughter of the Gamekeeper (Ernest Covey) to the Pallinghurst Estate, owned by Ernest and Katharine MacAndrew.

“One day I shall never forget (7th January 1944) Mitchell bombers were returning to Dunsfold on an operational flight, but, unable to find the target had bombs on board. Two collided over Pallinghurst, one crashing in front of Pallinghurst House, the other one by the stables. The bombs fell out of the plane and landed in a field close to my father. He fell behind a tree which took most of the blast. Mr MacAndrew’s daughter [Kitty (Katherine Flora Lund)] was blown into the pond and received a cut on her leg, but all the airmen died. A few years later, when we were settling down once again, Mr MacAndrews decided to plant some rhododendrons near where the plane had crashed. My brother, now home from the RAF, was the Head Gardener, and he and the other gardeners planted them”.

Witness: – Mel Reynolds, (a 5 year old boy), standing at a Tismans Common (¾ mile to the south-east) with a group of 3 other children. He was told, at the time, that the aircraft were returning from a raid on the German Forces in France and one of the aircraft had been badly damaged. Two other aircraft were in close formation with it escorting it back to Dunsfold. Just before streaming in for the landing at Dunsfold he vividly recalls seeing the damaged aircraft dip and touch wings with one of the others and then one went one way and the other went the other both spiralling down out of control. He saw one aircraft crash followed by a very large explosion which he said shook the ground. (Both the aircraft were in two separate six aircraft box formations and were not escorting any damaged aircraft: –  180 Sqdn. ORB “Aircraft FR396 was returning from an operation flying in box of six aircraft when it collided with Mitchell FL682 of No.98 Sqdn. in another formation. Both aircraft crashed, FR396 diving straight into the ground”).

The site of the aircraft that dived straight into the ground (see above) is probably not FR396 as an RAF Casualty Record Card records the recovery of the body of an airman from FL682 at the Map Ref. for that location.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\AHB Letter re Map Ref. for Mitchell at Pallinghurst.JPG

Above: – MoD Air Historical Branch letter identifying FL682 crewman at stables crash site.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Maps and Plans\Map of Pallinghurst showing crash location of 2 RAF MItchell bombers.JPG

Picture 1Above: – Hambledon ARP Log.

Picture 1Above: – Situation Report SE Regional Civil Defence Area. 8 bodies recovered.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\98 Sqd. 7th Jan 1944 ORB.JPGAbove: – 98 Squadron Operational Record Book, Summary of Events.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\180 Sqd. ORB 7th Jan 1944.JPGC:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\180 Sqd. ORB 7th Jan 1944 02 - Copy.JPGAbove: – 180 Squadron Operational Record Book, Summary of Events.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\ORB and CD Logs\98 Sqdn Record of Events 7.1.44.JPGAbove: – 98 Sqdn. Operational Record Book, Record of Events 7/1/44.

Transcript of 98 Sqdn. ORB, 7/1/44.

Operations on La Sorellerie II. Alternative – Mesnil Au Val which was attacked by F/L. Wilson’s box.  A/c “N” of 98 Sqdn was in collision with a/c “K” of 180 Sqdn on return from the raid and crashed 3 miles S. of base. All of crews killed.

C:\Users\Frank\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Station Orders 98 Sqdn 7.1.44.jpgC:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\ORB and CD Logs\Station Orders 98 Sqdn 7.1.44. b .JPGAbove: – Station (RAF Dunsfold) Summary of Events 7/1/44.

C:\Users\Frank\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\West Sussex County Council Action Minute Book 7th Jan. 1944 - Copy.jpgAbove:West Sussex County Council Action Minute BookChichester 7 Jan 1944

Transcript: –

13.45  RUDGWICK  2 planes crashed at approx 13.35 hrs. Bomb or bombs exploded as a result. Region notified at 13.48.

14.40  RUDGWICK  One plane crashed at Pallinghurst Map Ref. 499-531. Fire. N.F.S. on spot (National Fire Service). Some bombs exploded, others unexploded. One slight civilian casualty S.C. (Sitting Cases) car dispatched.

15.18  RUDGWICK  2 Mitchells from Dunsfold Aerodrome crashed at Pallinghurst at 13.35. One crashed 200 yds NE of the house right on the County boundary, the other 200 yds S of the house (actually SE of house). One bomb exploded after crash. 4 UXBs [unexploded bombs] found and dealt with by RAF. 3 bombs not found. 4 bodies from one plane found. Damage to stables, cottages and Pallinghurst House. Region notified at 15.25.

16.15  RUDGWICK  All bombs now detonated. Total bodies found 5.

Region notified 16.20.

16.30  RUDGWICK  Nothing further to report. Incident closed.



Crew of Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron

Flying Officer Ernest Fooks, pilot, 32, from New Zealand, Buried at Brookwood

Pilot Officer Leonard Taylor, navigator, 24, from and Buried in Birmingham.

Flight Sergeant Charles Forsyth, wireless op/gnr, 23, from Peacehaven, Buried Newhaven.

Flight Sergeant George Ormandy, gunner, 20, from and Buried in Beckenham.

Crew of Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron

Warrant Officer Terence Riordan, pilot, 22, from Abergavenny, Buried at Brookwood.

Flight Sergeant Douglas Morris, navigator, 23, from and Buried in Abergavenny.

Flight Sergeant Stanley Norton, wireless op. /gnr, 22, from and Buried in Lincoln.

Flight Sergeant William Cross, gunner, 22, from and Buried in Preston.          

Flg. Off. Ernest Berjeu FOOKS, Pilot, from New Zealand, (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Sqdn).

Buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery 2. B. 1, Service Number 146328, Died 07/01/1944, Aged 32, 180 Sqdn. RAF Volunteer Reserve, Son of Alfred Augustus and of Adele Catherine Fooks, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. B.E. Relative Also Killed: P/O Harry G C Fooks (Brother) 21/7/1941 on training flight No.10 OTU, Armstrong Whitworth Whitley.

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Ernest Berjeu Fooks 306183 - Copy.jpgC:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Fooks Brookwood.JPG


Plt. Off. Leonard Augustus TAYLOR Navigator (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron). Buried Brandwood End Cemetery, Birmingham. Service Number 168632, Died 07/01/1944, Aged 24, Son of William and May Taylor, of Small Heath, Birmingham.

Flt. Sgt. Charles Henry FORSYTH W/Op.AG (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron). 

Killed while returning on his 30th Operational Flight (the last of a Tour of 30 flights).

Flt. Sgt. George ORMANDY, Air Gunner, (Mitchell FR396 of 180 Squadron).

Warrant Off., Terence RIORDAN, Pilot (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron)

Flight Sergeant Douglas MORRIS, Navigator, (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron).

Flt. Sgt. Stanley Charles NORTON, Wireless Op/Air Gnr, (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Sqdn).

Flt.Sgt. William James CROSS, Air Gunner, (Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron)

Photo of Flt. Sgt. William Cross – Courtesy Arthur Burns.


  Crew of Mitchell FL682 of 98 Squadron.

“Pallinghurst” (shown below in 1930 from the air) looking north east, had a very productive garden and orchard (to the right, with the timber-framed Garden House, where the head gardener lived, and (white) glasshouses for peaches and grapes as well as bedding plants and flowers, in line with the other buildings. The park landscape and avenue to the main road are shown clearly, as is the foreground planting that keeps the view from the house open to the southerly view.                                                                          

C:\Users\Frank\Pictures\z011 Dunsfold Airfield and crashes and incidents thereon\Pallinghurst House\Photos of House\Pallinghurst 1930 - Copy.pngOn the left is the tennis court. The stables on the right would have been home to a dozen or so hunters. The lodge, just visible in the background was home to the head chauffeur. Some oak trees visible at the top of the drive were ‘county oaks’ marking the boundary, thought not to be there now. To the left, just off the picture was the wild garden, woodland managed for attractive walks along the rides.

Crash of 180 Sqdn. B-25 August 25th 1944

An enquiry came into the Society for information about a B-25 that ditched in the sea off Beachy Head in 1944.  Flight Officer Hodder had survived being shot down and his family were researching the details.  There were no known pictures of his aircraft Daily Delivery.

We managed to trace Daily Delivery (photo below) but the crew was not F/O Hodder’s crew.  This photo was taken a few weeks before the crash, but further research by colleagues of DAHS determined that the 180 Squadron crews rotated aircraft as operational restrictions dictated.  So the question was which aircraft was ditched in the sea? F/O Hodder’s later memoirs of the event are written below, with the Squadron ORB recording the official account.

D – Daily Delivery at Dunsfold. Informal group portrait of RAF ground staff with RAAF and Royal New Zealand Air Force air crew of a Mitchell bomber squadron, 180 Squadron RAF with the Second Tactical Air Force. Left to right: two RAF ground crew, Jock (Fitter) and Alf (Rigger); 422248 Flying Officer (FO) Jack B O’Halloran, pilot of Sydney, NSW, (later Flight Lieutenant and DFC); 417379 Pilot Officer James Crosby (Jim) Jennison (later Flying Officer and DFC) of Adelaide, SA; 422175 FO Reg J Hansen of Sydney, NSW; FO Harry M Hawthorn, RNZAF of Hastings, NZ

Continue reading “Crash of 180 Sqdn. B-25 August 25th 1944”

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.”

Continue reading “Mystery Mitchell Crash Summer 1944”

Records of aircraft crashes at Dunsfold in 1943-45

Canadian aircraft crashes at Dunsfold Aerodrome

In 1943, Tom Gold, Hermann Bondi and Fred Hoyle were living in a cottage on the edge of Dunsfold Aerodrome. Later, Tom Gold wrote:

“As the preparations for the invasion of France were proceeding, the French Channel coast was of course under almost constant bombardment by our airplanes. One such striking force was a Canadian contingent who flew these bombing missions early every morning, mostly with chemically timed bombs that could not be disarmed in any way. An acid inside was just going to eat its way through a diaphragm and when it did, the bomb would explode. Nothing you could do from the outside would stop it; the most sophisticated bomb disposal squad could do nothing with it, even if it knew all the details of its design.

The trouble for us was that this Canadian contingent was operating from an airfield adjacent to the house in which Bondi and I, and Hoyle some of the time, were living. In fact, it was our house that was the first object the heavily laden planes had to clear on take off. When we had rented the house, we did not know of this particular drawback, but now we were stuck with it. After a while of being awakened by twenty planes in succession just clearing the rooftop at 4:30 a.m., we got quite used to this, and could sleep through it.

But then one morning I woke up in a state of shock – there had evidently been a very nearby and very violent explosion. I must have been sleeping with my mouth wide open, for a large chunk of the plaster from the ceiling had fallen into it. As I was spitting it out, my bedroom door opened, and Fred Hoyle, who was staying there at the time, stuck his head in and said ‘Did you hear that!’ I said, ‘what do you mean, did I hear that? The house nearly collapsed!’ He said, ‘I know, but I heard, about twenty minutes ago, all the planes taking off except for one, where I heard the take off noise just suddenly stop, and then nothing more. So,’ he said, ‘I went back to sleep, and then came this noise, which of course, woke me up.’ I said to him, ‘How can you be so stupid, to go back to sleep, when clearly what must have happened was that the plane failed to take off, caught fire, and its bombs exploded?’ He said, ‘Well, of course, I know that now, but I couldn’t have done anything about it anyway’.

We later learned, of course, that this is exactly what happened. The crew had been able to save themselves, but the burning wreck eventually exploded its bomb load. It was only a hundred yards from our house.”

Burbidge (2003: pp218-219)

Records of aircraft crashing at Dunsfold in 1943- 45

Below is a list of aircraft crashes on the Aerodrome. More planes crashed in the vicinity.
18 January 1943: A Curtiss Tomahawk Iib of 430 Squadron RCAF blew a tyre on take-off and crashed. 109

21 January 1943: A Curtiss Tomahawk Iia of 430 Squadron RCAF crashed after forced landing due to mid-air engine failure.110

14 February 1943: A North American Mustang 1 of 430 Squadron RCAF aircraft flew too low and hit trees, crashing 111

28 February 1943: A Curtiss Tomahawk Iia of 430 Squadron RCAF aircraft force landed after engine failure and crashed. 112

19th March 1943 – damaged aircraft

23rd December 1943 – aircraft crash near Dunsfold


21 February 1944: A Handley Page Halifax III of 78 Squadron RAF crashed on landing at Dunsfold. 113

24th March 1944 – Lancaster crash landed

5th May 1944 aircraft crashed at Old Rickhurst

21 May 1944: an Avro Lancaster III of 156 Squadron RAF crash landed and caught fire after damage over Duisberg.114

12 July 1944: a North American Mitchell II of 98 Squadron RAF crashed on take off. 115 13 July 1944: An aircraft of 613 Squadron RAF crashed.116

13th July 1944 – aircraft crashed 613 Squadron

 8 September 1944: A North American Mitchell II of 98 Squadron RAF carrying bombs and exploded on touchdown, killing all the crew and badly damaging the runway. 117

14th September 1944 – Mitchell 180 Squadron crashed


9th February 1945 – Hawker Typhoon crashed pilot killed

17th April 1945 – Hawker Typhoon broke in half

19th April 1945 – Hawker Tempest crashed

14th June 1945 – Hawker Typhoon dived vertically into the ground on the bank of the Wey & Arun Canal

Source: Surrey County Council Monument Full Report ref, SHER 350/16 Dunsfold HER Monuments (5 December 2016).

109 SMR No 17145 – MSE17145; McCue, 1991: p39 (Includes photo). 110 SMR No 17148 – MSE17148; McCue, 1991: p39.
111 SMR No 17151 – MSE17151; McCue, 1991: p44
112 SMR No 17153 – MSE17153; McCue, 1991: p45
113 SMR No 17191 – MSE17191.
114 SMR No 17202 – MSE17202.
115 SMR No 17208 – MSE17208.
116 SMR No 17209 – MSE17209.
117 SMR No 17215 – MSE17215, Ashworth, 1985: p83; McCue, 1991: p161-163.