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13. Avenger Down

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Sub Lieutenant William Seddon Appleby
2nd Pilot S/L Ernest Hartley Green

 

6 May 1943 - Avenger FN 821 was issued to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) coded "4-K" It was involved in two accidents before its fatal crash. The first was a ground loop at Brunswick on 18 August 1943 during a night landing by Sub Lieutenant (S/L) S.C. Palmer. Later it was in a ground collision, with it's prop striking another Avenger JZ 129 on 8 December 1943. the third incident was as follows.

3 February 1944 FN 821 took off from Gosport on the south coast of England for a transfer of unit flight to Machrihanish, then on to the new station of HMS Robin in the Orkneys, north Scotland. A flight of about 1000 miles in total. On board were 1st Pilot S/L William Seddon Appleby aged 24 from Gisbourne New Zealand. 2nd Pilot S/L Ernest Hartley Green* aged 22 from Sheringham Norfolk. Observer S/L Joe Lupton aged 21 from Morley [there is more than one Morley in the UK, we would be grateful if anyone can clarify this for us*] and a rating listed only as 'a passenger' - was this rating male, female, the station mascot or even a serviceman's pet? the fact is not known.

A stop off & refuel point may have been RAF Valley in Anglesy, North Wales, it was on a bearing for this airfield that FN 821 ran into a heavy snowstorm near Llangynog, North Wales. Control of the aircraft was lost and FN 821 plunged into the boggy hillside of Trum-Y-Fawnog, loosing part of a wing on the way down. Eye witnesses report the wing as being away from the crash site, all four members of the crew being killed. The only piece left that resembled an aircraft was the tail unit. A recovery unit sent to salvage the aircraft pushed & pulled most of the large pieces of FN 821 down Nant Trefechan to a waiting 'Queen MAry' low loader. This in turn got stuck on one of the small hump back bridges in the valley and had to be pulled clear. The lanes are very narrow with no chance of turning around and going back. So they just had to keep going forward, hoping to not get stuck again.

In August 2006, some thirty years after forestry plantation, the crash site was found by a friend of mine who stumbled across it. The crash site has, basically, been left untouched all this time, being protected by the heavy vegetation. Wreckage is still embedded in the crater that used to be water filled but now mostly drained by the surrounding trees. Showing all the signs of a vertical high speed descent, the wreckage lies crumpled around. The crater clearly shows the outline of the frontal aspect of the Avenger being lopsided as if missing a wing. The remaining wing area still contained remains of undercarriage, tyre and fuel tank structures. Cockpit framing lay embedded into one side of the crater only.

* We have heard from Jonathan Green concerning his uncle Ernest Hartley Green

"Very interested to find site 13 in your crash sites list - Avenger down.
 
One of the crew killed in this accident, Ernest Hartley Green, known as Hartley, was my uncle.  I was the next child born into the family after his death and am proud to have Hartley as one of my given names.
 
I attach a picture of Hartley in flying gear which, if you are updating the site, you could add alongside his colleague Appleby.  I believe that the crew had training in the US before returning to be assigned to the Fleet Air Arm shore station HMS Robin in the Shetlands.  That was their destination when they crashed in North Wales.
 
As far as I know the bodies of all of those killed in the accident were recovered and returned to their families.  Hartley is buried in Pantmawr cemetery near Cardiff.
 
Kind regards
 
Jonathan Green"

Many thanks Jonathon

* We have heard from Rich Allenby regarding Joe Lupton as follows -

"Hi, spotted your request for info on Joe Lupton. he is buried at Morley cemetery in Leeds, this suggests he was a Yorkshire lad. - regards Rich Allenby"

Many Thanks Rich