ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 68721
Last updated: 9 June 2020
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:22-FEB-1938
Time:14:45
Type:Silhouette image of generic hafu model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Fury Mk I
Owner/operator:1 Sqn Royal Air Force (1 Sqn RAF)
Registration: K2061
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Black Cap, Plumpton, 2 miles W of Lewes Racecourse, Lewes, Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Tangmere, Chichester, West Sussex
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Hawker Fury I K2061: While flying at 300-400 feet, unexpectedly broke formation, possibly due to engine trouble, and lost height. Descending through haze at 14:45 hours local time, Fury K2061 struck two high tension cables stretched across a valley 98 feet above the ground, causing the fighter to plunge into a hillside, killing the pilot.

Fury K2061 came down onto the South Downs near the local landmark of Black Cap, Pumpton, 2 miles West of Lewes Racecourse, Lewes, Sussex. Pilot - Pilot Officer Merton Vivian Baxter (aged 22) - was killed. According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Western Morning News" Wednesday 23 February 1938):

FATAL R.A.F. CRASH.

Telephone Call To Police Reveals Mishap.

Pilot-Officer Merton Vivian Baxter was killed when his machine crashed in a lonely part of the South Downs, near Lewes Racecourse, yesterday. A telephone call to the police from a woman living at Plumpton led to a search of the downs, and the police then found Baxter's single-seater machine, badly damaged, embedded in a clump of hawthorn. Baxter's identity could be established only by a letter in his pocket.

His 'plane is believed to have struck an overhead electric cable before it crashed. As it fell it uprooted several trees. This is the nineteenth fatal accident involving an R.A.F. machine this year and the twenty-third death."

Pilot was Buried at St. Andrew's Church, Tangmere. He was a New Zealand national, who Arrived in London from Sydney 30.4.1936, on the SS "Strathnaver". Country of last permanent residence was New Zealand. He was a Student and his address was to be c/o Air Ministry, Kingsway WC.2. Baxter's service flying training took place at 3 FTS at RAF Grantham, Lincolnshire between 24-8-1936 and 21-4-1937. Of the 31 Officers on the course 12 Died/KIA, 3 became POW and 8 were decorated between 1936-1948. Baxter's service number was 37957. He was 22, and had 364 flying hours at the time of his death.

According to press reports in his native New Zealand ("PRESS (NEW ZEALAND), VOLUME LXXIV, ISSUE 22335", 24 February 1938):

"NEW ZEALAND AIRMAN KILLED

AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT IN ENGLAND

News was received in Temuka today of the death of Pilot Officer Merton Vivian Baxter, the fifth son of Mr and Mrs I. W. T. Baxter, of Temuka. Mr Baxter received a telegram from the Secretary of State for Air (Viscount Swinton) as follows:

"Following a cablegram from the Air Ministry, I deeply regret to inform you that your son Merton Vivian Baxter lost his life in an aircraft accident at Lewes, Sussex, to-day."

Pilot Officer Baxter was 22 years of age. He received all his training at the Saltwater Creek aerodrome, taking an A class licence in June, 1935. He left New Zealand in March, 1936, and started training in England in June of the same year, He became acting pilot in No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron of the Royal Air Force, in August of that year, and was later commissioned as pilot officer. All his education was received at the Temuka District High School."

Sources:

1. Air Britain The K File The RAF of the 1930s
2. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939.htm
3. http://aircrewremembered.com/baxter-merton-vivian.html
4. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=10880.0
5. http://www.rafcommands.com/archive/07599.php
6. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?6555-Identity-for-pre-war-officer/page2


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
10-Oct-2009 06:50 JINX Added
17-Feb-2018 00:59 Dr. John Smith Updated [Date, Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
03-Nov-2018 20:04 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description