A return to Urra Moor. Second day in a row. I have been minded to try to find this site for some time. Armed with an eight digit grid reference, it was surprisingly easy to find, the pieces of bleached aluminium had been piled up and acted as a beacon.
The wreckage is of an Airspeed Oxford Mk. I aircraft No. LW903 which was en route from RAF Kinnell in Scotland back to its base at RAF Faldingworth in Lincolnshire. On board were the pilot Flying Officer Owen Clarson, aged 22, F/O John Barkell, 21, and F/O Norman Riley, 24, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who was a passenger.
The date was 8th January, 1945, heavy snow showers and cloud were forecasted, and initially permission to take off was refused. But eventually a flight plan over Newcastle, Darlington, and then down the Vale of York was agreed. The last sighting by a Royal Observer Corp post was as it headed over the North York Moors. It is supposed that the aircraft iced up and lost height. All three men died.
The aircraft was duly reported as missing but probably, because of the poor weather, its crash location was not found for another six days. Recovery of the bodies and aircraft wreckage would have been the responsibility of No. 60 Maintenance Unit which was based at RAF Shipton near York. Where no local army units with tracked vehicles could be enlisted, wooden sledges were constructed and ditches bridged. Recovery could take several weeks but obviously some wreckage was missed.
•“Oxford LW903.” Yorkshire-Aircraft.co.uk, 2021, www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/planes/45/lw903.html. Accessed 28 June 2021.
•Wotherspoon, Nick, Alan Clark and Mark Sheldon. “Aircraft Wrecks – The Walker’s Guide”. 2013. Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 978 1 78159 473 5
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