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THE ACCIDENT

One of the aircraft not to return from these sorties was a Halifax MET MK III X9-N, tail number RG380 of No 517 Sqn based at RAF Brawdy, Pembrokeshire.


On 10th September 1945 this aircraft was attempting to land at Westonzoyland where it had been diverted to after returning from a 9 ½ hr sortie over the Atlantic.


The crew of RG380 was rostered to fly the afternoon EPICURE sortie.  When the early morning sortie took off at 1038 GMT, the Brawdy weather was so poor that the crew had been unable to land and had to be diverted to RAF Weston Zoyland, where they landed at 1145 GMT.


Unusually the afternoon sortie, RG380 was carrying two MAOs - Sgt John Gordon, a newcomer to the squadron, was being ‘screened’ by Sergeant Louis Groves, by now an experienced observer.


The RG380 flight proceeded normally, but as the weather at Brawdy had not improved during the afternoon, the aircraft was also diverted to Weston Zoyland.  The crew of the morning sortie were still at Weston Zoyland, and saw RG380 as it passed over the airfield just below the cloud base.  About half an hour later, whilst relaxing in the village pub, they were quietly told the RG380 Halifax MET MK III had crashed.


Due to radio interference, communications between the pilot and Air Traffic Control appear to be have been interrupted and as the aircraft turned away from Weston Zoyland it crashed in dense fog at dusk into the Quantock Hills above Crowcombe Hall.


All hands were lost due to multiple shortcomings in air safety.


The RG380 had flown below the safety altitude for the area whilst making an extended circuit to the west of the airfield.  At 1954 GMT the Halifax had crashed into the steep southwest-facing escarpment of the Quantock hills at about 1000 feet, striking the ridge just below the highest point, a mile northeast of Crowcombe village.

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