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1943-03-29 Crash over Morpeth

Crash site: on RAF Morpeth base, Northumberland, GB

Crash cause: in circuit collision

1. No. 4 Air Gunners School

On March 29th, 1943, five young to very young Dutchmen died in an air accident involving two aircraft. Rudi van den Bron was only 17 years old. The Dutchies had almost completed their training as airgunners at No. 4 Air Gunners School, when the two trainer aircraft collided. There were low clouds that morning, a reason to suspend flying activities. But the Air Vice Marshall was paying a visit, so it was decided to give demonstration flights. One of the Botha's collided during take-off with the other that was coming in to land. Three Dutch Airgunners under training in one of the aircraft, two and a British one in the other. All involved died.

Source: Saul Muller, artcle '50 years on ... an airman remembers' in Northumberland Herald & Post, 2/9/1992, via http://www.bpears.org.uk/NE-Diary/Inc/ISeq_32.html. Saul Muller is an Engelandvaarder from Belgium. He was airgunner trainee on board a Botha that had taken off directly prior to the accident.

According to Graeme Carrott there were nine crew in all, the Polish S/Ldr. Stanislas Z. Zarski, pilot of W5154, age 46r, P/O. George Rowan Jackson RNZAF, age 22, pilot of W5137, Lac (Ag/UT) Frank L. Beresford, age 22, and Ac1 Tomasz Rzeznikiewicz, age 22, as S/Ldr. Stanislaw Zarski, also from Poland. And then the five Dutchies. One of the aircraft went down at a 45 degrees angle. The other continued on its flight path for a few seconds, enabling one of the crew to parachute out. But it was too low for his parachute to deploy. The collision took place at an altitude of about 1.200 ft. Five crew were killen in W5137, four in W5154.

The crew allocation over both aircraft has been investigated by 'Air Crash Northumberland'; Jim Corbett, Russ Gray, Jonathan Shipley & Neil Anderson.

Many of the No. 4 AGS pilots were Polish. They considered this to be a boring job, as compared to operational flying. The flying capabilities of the Botha's were poor. These two elements, but most of all the lack of traffic control on Morpeth, can be seen as an explanation for this accident. In the period of 24/05/1942 to 17/07/1943 eight accidents has occurred, involving 11 aircraft, and leading to one fatal casualty. In all 74 servicemen from Poland are buried in Morpeth SS Mary & James Churchyard. Morpeth had a Polish camp and hospital during the War.

Morpeth airfield remains are located a few miles North of Newcastle International Airport. Graeme Carrott: Whilst standing at a farm gate on the west side of the Saltwick-Mitford road, about 400 yards south of the Tranwell Woods junction, and then looking across the field, you can see the site of the three runways and some of the eastern perimeter track and hardstandings.

Sources: Graeme Carrott on http://www.airnorth.demon.co.uk/section3z.htm; Henk Welting, Jim Corbett, Ian Brown and Jim Routledge on http://www.rafcommands.com

Name

1. Bron, Rudi van den

Dutch RAF aviator datasheet


Morpeth 080203 Bron R van den

Rank

Adsp Leerling Vltg Maker, Lac., Ag U/T

Stb.Nr. 20608

Decorations

None known

Born

28/11/1925

Place

Soerabaja, Java, NEI

Squadron

No. 4 AGS

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Botha Mk. I Nr. W5137

Base

RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Mission

Training

Status

KIFA, collision between Botha's over base

age

17

Killed

29/3/1943

Place

on RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Buried

SS Mary & James Churchyard, Morpeth, GB, grave A/E/35

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. P/O G.R. Jackson, Pilot - KIFA
3. LAC A.W. Van Egmond, Ag/UT - KIFA
4. AC2 B.E. Van Opdorp, Ag/UT - KIFA
5. Sgt. E. Hall, instructor - KIFA

Memorial

Soesterberg

yes

Memorial

Other

yes

Mill Hill Memorial Table, London, GB

Mill Hill Van den Bron

GB arrival

Came from Adsp ll Vltg Mkr training in NEI

Remarks

Demo flights for top brass visitors

Data confusion


Name

2. Egmond, Arie Willem van

Dutch RAF aviator datasheet


Morpeth 080203 Egmond AW van

Rank

Matr 1kl, Lac., Ag U/T

Stb.Nr. 20250

Decorations

None known

Born

4/7/1921

Place

Batavia, Java, NEI

Squadron

No. 4 AGS

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Botha Mk. I Nr. W5137

Base

RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Mission

Training

Status

KIFA, collision between Botha's over base

age

21

Killed

29/3/1943

Place

on RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Buried

SS Mary & James Churchyard, Morpeth, GB, grave A/E/41

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. P/O G.R. Jackson, Pilot - KIFA
3. AC2 B.E. Van Opdorp, Ag/UT - KIFA
4. AC2 R. van den Bron, Ag/UT - KIFA
5. Sgt. E. Hall, instructor - KIFA

Memorial

Soesterberg

yes

Memorial

Other

yes

Mill Hill Memorial Table, London, GB


Mill Hill Van Egmond

GB arrival

Remarks

Demo flights for high brass visitors

Data confusion


Name

3. Kooij, Daniël Johannes

Dutch RAF aviator datasheet


Morpeth 080203 Kooij DJ

Rank

Matr 2kl z/m, Lac., Ag U/T

Stb.Nr. 90483/Z

Decorations

Kruis van Verdienste

Born

2/12/1919

Place

Rotterdam, NL

Squadron

No. 4 AGS

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Botha Mk. I Nr. W5154

Base

RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Mission

Training

Status

KIFA, collision between Botha's over base

age

23

Killed

29/3/1943

Place

on RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Buried

SS Mary & James Churchyard, Morpeth, GB, grave A/E/37

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. F/Lt. S.Z. Zarski, Pilot, Polish P.1181 - KIFA
3. LAC F.L. Beresford, A/G - KIFA
4. LAC F. van Westenbrugge, Ag/UT - KIFA

Memorial

Soesterberg

yes

Memorial

Other

yes

1. Vijfluik Loenen, Gelderland, NL

Vijfluik Kooij DJ

2. Mill Hill Memorial Table, London, GB

Mill Hill Kooij DJ

GB arrival

Engelandvaarder. Departure June 1941, arrival 29/4/1942 via Norway and Sweden, see below

Remarks

Demo flights for high brass visitors

Daniël Johannes Kooij, a professional sailor, left his home at the Slotsedijk 135, Rotterdam, in June 1941, determined to go to England to fight the enemy. He choose the transportation with which he was familiar: ocean going vessels. He enlisted on a German vessel sailing to Ålesund in Norway. There he deserted, but he was captured, and offered a choice. Either return to sailing with the German vessel, or be send for imprisonment in Germany. He choose the first option, as it offered the better possibilities for another desertion. And that's exactly what he did, by swimming ashore in Ålesund harbour. This time he was helped on his way by Ålesund citizens, and by many Norwegian farmers along the route to Sweden. This journey spanned 450 kilometers, in his own words, and he walked all the way. The shortest distance to the Swedish border is about 300 km, as the crow flies. Since Kooij had to cross mountains, with peaks above 2.000 meters, his estimation of 450 km is quite likely to be accurate.

In Sweden he served about seven months on the Dutch vessel 'Mira'. Then came the opportunity to board an aircraft headed towards Great Britain. He arrived in the UK on 29/4/1942. A most remarkable escape journey. Source: NA 2.09.06-4697

Data confusion


Name

4. Opdorp, Bernardus Eduardus van

Dutch RAF aviator datasheet



Morpeth 080203 Opdorp BE van

Rank

Matr 2kl, Lac., Ag U/T

Stb.Nr. 16320

Decorations

None known

Born

8/12/1920

Place

Hoek, near Terneuzen, NL

Squadron

No. 4 AGS

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Botha Mk. I Nr. W5137

Base

RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Mission

Training

Status

KIFA, collision between Botha's over base

age

22

Killed

29/3/1943

Place

on RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Buried

SS Mary & James Churchyard, Morpeth, GB, grave A/E/39

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. P/O G.R. Jackson, Pilot - KIFA
3. LAC A.W. Van Egmond, Ag/UT - KIFA
4. AC2 R. van den Bron, Ag/UT - KIFA
5. Sgt. E. Hall, instructor - KIFA

Memorial

Soesterberg

yes

Memorial

Other

yes

Mill Hill Memorial Table, London, GB

Mill Hill Van Opdorp

GB arrival

Remarks

Demo flights for high brass visitors

Data confusion


Name

5. Westenbrugge, Frans van

Dutch RAF aviator datasheet

F. van Westenbrugge Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-

Morpeth 080203 Westenbrugge F van

Rank

Matr 1kl MLD, Lac., Ag U/T

Stb.Nr. 16239

Decorations

None known

Born

29/9/1920

Place

's-Gravenhage, NL

Squadron

No. 4 AGS

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Botha Mk. I Nr. W5154

Base

RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Mission

Training

Status

KIFA, collision between Botha's over base

age

22

Killed

29/3/1943

Place

on RAF Morpeth, Northumberland, GB

Buried

SS Mary & James Churchyard, Morpeth, GB, grave A/E/33

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. F/Lt. S.Z. Zarski, Pilot, Polish P.1181 - KIFA
3. LAC F.L. Beresford, A/G - KIFA
4. LAC D.J. Kooij, Ag/UT - KIFA

Memorial

Soesterberg

yes

Memorial

Other

yes

Mill Hill Memorial Table, London, GB

Mill Hill Van Westenbrugge

GB arrival

Remarks

Demo flights for high brass visitors

Data confusion


Frans (left) and Jan van Westenbrugge, possibly in Dover. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50


Frans kwam uit een diep gelovig gezin met 12 kinderen; hij was de vijfde zoon. Na eerst een periode bij zijn vader als kuiper gewerkt te hebben wat hem niet beviel, tekende hij bij de KM. Na de gebruikelijke opleiding werd hij geplaatst op de 'Willem van der Zaan'. In mei '40 vertrok hij met dat schip waarop de koninklijke familie richting GBr.

Aldaar gevaren te hebben ondermeer ook bij/op de motortorpedoboten MTB's, vroeg hij overplaatsing aan bij de MLD voor opleiding boordschutter. Zijn broer Jan die op de O-19 voerde, raadde Frans af om als boordschutter naar de MLD te gaan daar de overlevingskansen zeer klein zouden zijn!

En zoals je weet, hij is toch gegaan.

Op de foto staat Frans van W. samen met zijn broer Jan. Foto genomen in Dover? Broer Jan was aanwezig op de begravenis van Frans alwaar hij ook zong. Jan kon zeer goed en mooi zingen...

Bron: Gesprekken met zus en broer van Frans van W. en summiere info op achterkant op sommige foto's. Staat van Dienst wordt opgevraagd voor meer inlichtingen.

Source: Rob Venema, 20/8/2006

Grave of F. van Westenbrugge in Morpeth, 1943 Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50


Morpeth churchyard in 2008, plot A, rightmost section of row E. Below in bold the names of the men involved in the 29/3/1943 collision. Morpeth 080203-6


Left to right:

1. Westenbrugge, Frans van, Lac. (Matr 1kl MLD), RNNAS/4 AGS, Dutch, born

's-Gravenhage, NL, 29/9/1920. Morpeth, 29/3/1943, age 22, grave A/E/33

2. Rossignol, Allen Theodore Lewis, F/O., American, RAF VR 130612, 2/6/1943, age 31, grave A/E/34. From 20 OTU. Killed when Wellington R1707 crashed near Pigdoni Farm, Morpeth.

3. Bron, Rudi van den, Lac. (Adsp Leerl Vltg Maker), RNNAS/4 AGS, Dutch, born Soerabaja, Java, NEI, 28/11/1925. Morpeth, 29/3/1943, age 17, grave A/E/35

4. Reszko, Ryszard, ppor. (2nd Lt.), 4 AGS, RAF VR P.2212, Polish, born Warszawa, P, 18/7/1921. 22/6/1943, age 21, grave A/E/36. Pilot of Botha W5156.

5. Kooij, Daniël Johannes, Lac. (Matr 2kl z/m), RNNAS/4 AGS, Dutch, born Rotterdam, NL, 2/12/1919. Morpeth, 29/3/1943, age 23, grave A/E/37

6. Logan, Harold Victor, Lac. (Ag u/t), RAF VR 1819367, 22/6/1943, age 18, grave A/E/38

7. Opdorp, Bernardus Eduardus van, Lac. (Matr 2kl), RNNAS/4 AGS, Dutch, born Hoek, near Terneuzen, NL, 8/12/1920. Morpeth, 29/3/1943, age 22, grave A/E/39

8. Kobyliński, Lucjan, ppor. (2nd Lt.), KE OFIC, Polish, born Wilno, P, 15/12/1912. 26/9/1943, grave A/E/40

9. Egmond, Arie Willem van, Lac. (Matr 1kl) RNNAS/4 AGS, Dutch, born Batavia, Java, NOI, 4/7/1921. Morpeth, 29/3/1943, age 21, grave A/E/41

10. Kamyszek, Leon, st. strz. (Lance Corporal), O Zb KU 1, Polish, born Lublin, P, 29/7/1907. 26/10/1943, age 36, grave A/E/42

11. Beresford, Frank Lester, Lac., RAF VR Nr. 1120955, of Tettenhall, Staffordshire, British, Morpeth, 29/3/1943, age 29, grave A/E/43

12. Jedlina-Jacobson, Andrzej Józef, Cpl., O Zb KU 1, Polish, born Gniezno, P, 25/2/1919. 6/11/1943, age 24, grave A/E/44

13. Wrzuszczak, Antoni, plut. (Lance Sergeant), KU 1, Polish, born Pruchnik p. Jaroslaw, P, 1/5/1893. 14/12/1943, age 50, grave A/E/45

Not visible in this picture:

- P/O. George Rowan Jackson, Pilot, 4 AGS, RNZAF Nr. 413076, died 29/3/1943, age 22, grave A/E/31

- S/Ldr. Stanislaw Z. Zarski, Pilot, 4 AGS, RAF VR P.1181, Polish, died 29/3/1943, age 46, grave A/E/29 (the 3rd from the left on row E).

- Ac1/Szer. (Private) Rzeznikiewicz, T., Ag/UT, OZB KU1, Polish, 29/5/1943 according to the headstone, age 22, grave A/E/32. Believed to be the 9th victim of the 29/3/1943 collision.

Confirmed by Jim Corbett, 24/9/2004

Sources: CWGC, OGS, Russell Legross, Jim Corbett, Henk Welting, Rob Philips. Jos van Alphen corrected the Polish names, and added places and dates of birth of the Polish casualties.

3. Crash site data


Map 32. RAF Tranwell, site of death of five Dutch airgunners under training


Site of the former RAF Tranwell, between Cock Hill and Saltwick. The airfield was constructed in 1942, and closed in 1945. Over 4.000 airgunners were trained here. Little remains of the base today.


Remains of RAF Morpeth Tranwell. Morpeth Tranwell 080203-1


Remains of RAF Morpeth Tranwell. Morpeth Tranwell 080203-2


Morpeth Tranwell, looking towards the crash area of the two Botha's, site of death of the five Dutch airgunner trainees. Morpeth Tranwell 080203-6


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