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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 22304
Last updated: 30 June 2020
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Date:25-JAN-1940
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic SWOR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Owner/operator:751 Sqn FAA RN
Registration: P4223
C/n / msn: F.4382
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Heydon Head, near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:RAF Silloth, Cumberland
Destination airport:RNAS Ford, Yapton, West Sussex
Narrative:
On 25 January 1940 four Fairey Swordfish left RAF Silloth, West Cumbria, for a routine ferry flight to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm station at Ford, a Reserve Aircraft Storage Unit. Sub/Lt Gerald Vyvian Williamson of 751 Squadron had been assigned to deliver P4223 to Ford that day. Williamson was a very experienced pilot with over 10 years flying experience, and was honorary secretary of the Yorkshire Light Aeroplane Club. At the outbreak of war in September 1939 he immediately volunteered for flying duties, and following assessment, was given a posting to the Fleet Air Arm in October 1939. Having left Silloth heading south, the four aircraft ran into a blizzard over the Pennines, and with high winds, heavy snow and freezing temperatures, the Swordfish with its open cockpit, was not a very nice place to be. Bad visibility was also causing problems and the 4 aircraft soon became separated, Williamson caught in a severe blizzard was forced off course and headed too far east, ending up over the wild moorlands south of the Yorkshire Village of Holmfirth, near Huddersfield, Here, flying at a speed of over 100-mph, he struck a hill at a location known as Heydon Head and was killed outright.

Due to the heavy snowfall of winter 1940, Sub/Lt Williamson`s Swordfish lay dormant for over a month, and was only spotted by chance when a County Council workman, Mr John Davis, clearing snow from the A6024 Woodhead to Holmfirth road, noticed the strange shape in the distance, and curiosity got the better of him and he set off on a 2 mile trek to investigate. On arrival he was shocked to find the dead pilot still strapped in his seat in the wreck of an aeroplane. He rushed back down the Woodhead road, and to the nearest phone, some 5 miles away, and telephoned the local Police. The pilot was soon recovered from the aircraft and a coroner had established that cause of death was a fractured skull, and he added that death would have been instantaneous.

Small pieces of wreckage at or near the crash site have been "tidied up", and gathered in one place to form an impromptu memorial to the pilot; there were present as recently as January 2019 (see link #5)

Sources:

1. http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/crash_sites/peak-district/fairey-swordfish-p4223-heydon-head/
2. http://macr.moonfruit.com/#/swordfish-p4223/4518744743
3. http://aircrashsites.co.uk/raf-crash-sites-1939-1942/h-2/
4. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2408102/WILLIAMSON,%20GERALD%20VYVIAN
5. https://peakwreckhunters.blogspot.com/2019/01/fairey-swordfish-p4223.html
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmfirth
7. http://www.madeinholmfirth.co.uk/woodhead/
8. https://www.flickr.com/photos/dave1963/9251250275/
9. http://colnevalley.blogspot.com/2013/11/holme-again.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
06-Aug-2008 23:15 Anon. Added
19-Jan-2012 14:47 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
21-Jan-2012 04:08 Nepa Updated [Operator]
25-Jan-2017 07:04 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
27-Oct-2018 19:30 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
07-May-2019 18:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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