ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 150410
Last updated: 15 November 2019
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:30-OCT-1940
Time:evening
Type:Silhouette image of generic beau model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bristol Beaufighter Mk IF
Owner/operator:219 (Mysore) Squadron Royal Air Force (219 (Mysore) Sqn RAF)
Registration: R2065
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Balcome Place, near Balcombe, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Redhill, Surrey
Destination airport:RAF Redhill, Surrey
Narrative:
30th October 1940 - The last official day of the Battle of Britain. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/4229): "Pilot Officer K W Worsdell, Sergeant E C Gardiner: killed; failed to return from operational flight, Beaufighter R2065, 219 Squadron, 30 October 1940"

On the night of 30th October 1940 Bristol Beaufighter R2065 from No. 219 Squadron took off from RAF Redhill in Surrey at approx 18.25 pm for a routine patrol around the London area. At the controls were Pilot Officer K W Worsdell originally from Bracknell in Berkshire and his Air Gunner Sgt. E C Gardiner from Pontefract. The squadron was one of the first squadrons to receive the Mk.1 Beaufighter, the radar equipment carried in the nose of the aircraft was considered top secret at the time and would later prove invaluable to the RAF. R2065 was equipped with the Mk.IV A.I. (Airborne Interceptor) Radar which was still experimental at the time.

RAF Redhill was less than ideal for the Beaufighter with its muddy grass runways and the station was not popular with the air crews. Because of its geographical location and being situated on what was once a marsh, the aerodrome was more often than not shrouded in fog. The runway lighting was primitive to say the least, there were no runway lights, instead the crews relied on two ‘goose neck’ flares, one placed each end of the runway.

The weather on the night of the 30th October 1940 was at first clear but quickly worsened to minimum visibility. It was on its return flight that R2065 tragically flew in to Beech trees at high ground near Balcombe in West Sussex, the crew were desperately trying to locate Redhill and were instantly killed when the aircraft erupted into a ball of flame and metal.

Crew of Beaufighter R2065:
Pilot Officer Kenneth Wilson Worsdell (Pilot) RAFVR, Service Number 33497 aged 20 – killed in action 30/10/1940
Sgt. Eric Cecil Gardiner (Observer) RAFVR Service Number 562691 – killed in action 30/10/1940

Both crew were interned in different locations: Pilot Officer Kenneth Wordell was buried at Nutfield Cemetery, Nutfield, Surrey. Sergeant Eric Gardiner was buried in his home town of Pontefract, at Pontefract Cemetery, Pontefract, South Yorkshire

On 30 October 2010, a memorial organised by Daniel and Kevin Hunt, the Curators of the Wings Museum at Balcombe, was unveiled, marking seventy years to the day when the two young air men lost their lives. Several relatives of Sergeant Gardiner, two Cousins and a Great Nephew, were in attendance together with flag bearers from the Haywards Heath Branch of the RAFA. It has not been possible to trace relatives of Kenneth Worsdell.



Sources:

1. Royal Air Force aircraft R1000-R9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1980)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/4229: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C16688327
3. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2435196/worsdell,-kenneth-wilson/
4. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2412899/gardiner,-eric-cecil/
5. http://www.wingsmuseum.co.uk/Beaufighter_R2065_Balcombe_Sussex.htm
6. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york40/l1168b.html
7. http://www.wingsmuseum.co.uk/beaufighter_r2065_memorial_sussex.htm
8. https://britainatwar.keypublishing.com/2011/08/25/beaufigher-crew-memorial-unveiled/
9. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?PHPSESSID=ijr7oeadhb22qr9b1rkujvpq50&topic=15468.0


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
28-Oct-2012 14:05 Nepa Added
20-Aug-2013 14:36 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
11-Nov-2014 15:24 Comet123 Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Departure airport]
13-Jul-2015 06:54 angels one five Updated [Source, Narrative]
29-Aug-2015 14:47 Angel dick 15 Updated [Source, Narrative]
19-Oct-2019 19:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Other fatalities, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Oct-2019 19:16 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description