• Galloway Air Crashes 1940 - 1979

    On the 21st of July 1944 Avro Anson MG356 departed from RAF West Freugh with five crew onboard. The navigator, 25-year-old Sergeant Darius Northmore was under training, along with Sergeant Bertram Becker, an Air Bomber, also learning his role. The Anson belonged to No4 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit. Piloting the aircraft was 21-year-old Flight Sergeant Raymond Crotty of the Royal Australian Air Force.

    The crew were briefed to conduct a night navigation exercise in the area before returning back to RAF West Freugh. Also onboard were Warrant Officer Peter Smith and Sgt Edward Cresswell, both wireless operators and air gunners. Like so many air accidents in this area, prevailing strong winds pushed MG356 off course, and into dangerous terrain. The crew probably began a descent onto the West Freugh approach beam, mistakenly believing they were over the sea.

    The Anson struck the remote hillside, destroying the aircraft, with all flight crew fatally wounded in the accident. This is a site I visit regularly and what always strikes me is that perhaps another 100 foot or so, the aircraft might have cleared the high ground. The thin soil and vegetation has never grown back, and the hillside is exposed to the bedrock where it struck. Undercarriage, oxygen bottles, and other debris remain onsite, after all these years. No memorial marks the site. (Image 11).

    Galloway Air Crashes
    Image 11. The remains of Avro Anson MG356, with a snowy Merrick in the background.

    Craignaw (645m) is a gnarly granite mountain that lies in the heart of the Galloway range, to the south of the Merrick. Underneath the mountain lies the beautiful shimmering waters of Loch Neldricken, which is framed by its very own white sandy beaches. During our last walk into the mountain, during fine weather, Scott flew the drone, capturing the rugged beauty of the area.

    Underneath the summit lies a memorial dedicated to the memory of Captain Richard Hetzner and Captain Raymond Spaulding of the USAF. On the 19th of December 1979, a General Dynamics F111E from Upper Heyford was conducting low flying training in the area, when the aircraft struck the south side of the mountain just below the summit. (Image 12). The fast jet was totally destroyed and both crew members died in the accident.

    Galloway Air Crashes
    Image 12. F1-11E memorial plaque, Craignaw.

    In 1987 a permanent memorial was erected on the crash site, by members of a local hill-walking group. Virtually nothing remains of the F111E. (Image 13)

    Galloway Air Crashes
    Image 13. The F1-11 memorial on Craignaw. Virtually nothing of the aircraft remains. The memorial was erected by Tommy Withers and other members
    of a local hill-walking club.

    In my next article, I'll be looking at Cairnsmore of Fleet, beside Newton Stewart, which has its own history and witnessed a larger concentration of air accidents than any mountain in the Galloway range. (Image 14)

    Galloway Air Crashes
    Image 14. Cairnsmore of Fleet. In my next article I'll be looking at a number of accidents on this mountain.

    Barry Donnan
    Adventure, Hills and History


    7 Comments
    1. AlyMac's Avatar
      AlyMac -
      Fantastic reading auld pal - thanks fur sharin :-)
    1. BarryDon's Avatar
      BarryDon -
      Thanks Aly. My pleasure
    1. sky44's Avatar
      sky44 -
      Very Interesting.
    1. BarryDon's Avatar
      BarryDon -
      Thank you.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Excellent article!

      Thank you for the time and effort you put into writing this. Your research is superb!

      W33
    1. BarryDon's Avatar
      BarryDon -
      My pleasure W33. Thank you for the kind comments!
    1. archangelmj12's Avatar
      archangelmj12 -
      Superior writing and accounts of history. Under the same pretense i was researching and saw an article about the missing aircraft that took off from Malaysia and was lost.
      From what the article said he had found the plane in a Vietnam jungle, well I went on to Google map and i located the wreckage and i measured it from satellite in meters, the measurements were off by two meters of the fuselage small break. I also located a small clearing with huts about from what im seeing at the most 3 to 10 miles. its a large makeshift clearing, near enough that anyone there would of heard the plane crash.
      Im surmising that the clearing with huts was a recovery by either legal or illegal operatives.
      What I did find interesting is the damage to the aircraft which showed wings rudder flaps all intact, the aircraft went down without power and there wasnt any fuel damage to vegatation anywhere in the surrounding area, no skid no downed trees, this aircraft did a freefall, and from the damages im seeing, there is sign of holes made by projectile and what appears to be damage from a missile of some sorts.
      What i found absurd is after the find Im not seeing anyone stepping up in Govt anywhere discussing what to do next.
      As you recall, the Soviets shot down an airliner over the Kamchtuk Peninnsula and strafed the water killing all passengers including a senator or congressmen from Georgia.
      Im also wondering if the reason they havent gone in is as to what they will find.
      Semper Fidelis
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