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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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RAF Crest
19.08.1944 16 Operational Training Unit Martinet HP390 P/O.Woodhead

Operation: Air Test

Date: 19th August 1944 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 16 Operational Training Unit. 92 Group

Type: Martinet TT.I

Serial: HP390

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Upper Heyford

Location: As above

Pilot: P/O. Donald Bruce Woodhead NZ/412301 RNZAF Age 30. Seriously injured

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 16:36 hrs on an air test after a major inspection.

After climbing to 150 ft the aircraft suffered an engine failure. The pilot banked to avoid the village of Upper Heyford whilst attempting a forced landing. Tragically he hit two trees and crashed. Although alive when he was removed from the wreckage, he died shortly afterwards.

The reasons for the crash are that four valves had seized in their guides, probably as a result of corrosion. It was also stated that it was possible that the engine had not been warmed up sufficiently prior to take off.

Burial details:

A full military funeral was held at Botley cemetery on the 24th August.

P/O. Donald Bruce Woodhead. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/3. Grave 135. Born on the 02nd July 1912 at Auckland, the son of Fred Baynes Woodhead and Elizabeth Jane Woodhead (née Ross) and husband of Betty Woodhead, (née Holmes) of Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand. Worked as a teacher for Auckland Education Board. A total of 935 flying hours logged and having completed 39 operational sorties - 36 of these made with 40 Squadron in the Middle East.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 11.08.2018

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 03 April 2021, 17:55

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