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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 163589
Last updated: 16 October 2021
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Time:12:12 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic VAMP model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB Mk 5
Owner/operator:2 FP Royal Air Force (2 FP RAF)
Registration: VZ114
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Ellerbeck Colliery, Adlington, near Chorley, Lancashire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Samlesbury, Lancashire
Destination airport:RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire (EGDL)
On Monday the 29th August 1949 Flying Officer Richard Harry Clymo made a normal take off from the English Electric airfield at Samlesbury in de Havilland Vampire FB5 VZ114 at 12:07 hours on a routine delivery flight to 33 MU at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Five minutes later the aircraft was seen to emerge out of low cloud at about 500-800 feet in a steep dive and crash into a disused part of a gravel pit near to the colliery site at Ellerbeck, Adlington, near Chorley, Lancashire, about 11 miles South of the airfield at Samlesbury. The aircraft exploded on impact and Flying Officer Richard Harry Clymo was killed instantly.

Fire Brigade units from Wigan and Chorley and the Chorley ambulance service were quickly on the scene and the police were there in force to keep back the many residents and workers who had gathered round. A part of the flaming wing was flung into the shaft of a nearby pumping station of the colliery and a fireman had to be lowered part way down the shaft to retrieve the twisted wreckage.

The wreckage of the aircraft was strewn over an area 130 yards by 80 yards and much of it was burning. It appeared that Flying Officer Clymo was trying to make an emergency forced landing when the crash occurred. It was believed that when he realised his aircraft was going to crash, Flying Officer Clymo jumped clear, but he was not high enough for his parachute to deploy - an unopened parachute was found alongside his body.

Vampire FB5 VZ114 was built by English Electric at Samlesbury under contract 2467, being completed on the 18th August 1949. The aircraft was then issued to No 33 Maintenance Unit on the 29th August 1949, the same day as its fatal accident, the aircraft was then struck of charge on the 26th January 1950.

At the inquest into the death of Flying Officer Clymo held at Chorley on the 31st August 1949, the Deputy Coroner, Mr H R Blackhurst ruled that Flying Officer Clymo had died of multiple injuries received in a aeroplane crash, the verdict being one of misadventure.

A number of eyewitnesses were present at the inquest and some of their statements follow, Mr Thomas Walkden stated: “That about 12:15 hours on Monday I was in a field on my farm adjoining Wigan Lane, immediately opposite Duxbury colliery which was about 200 yards away when I saw a jet plane flying low below the clouds in the direction of Coppull. The aircraft seemed to be in flames from end to end and coming at an inclination of 45 degrees, turning sharply to the left it crashed near to the pit head, I saw something drop but could not see what it was. I ran to the spot but was unable to do anything of the heat and smoke”.

Mr John Derbyshire stated: “I was in the living room at home when I heard the sound of a jet plane. It was coming straight for the house from the direction of Chorley and appeared to be diving, I ran to the window and saw it was a single seater plane and that it was not in nosedive but at a definite angle. It just missed my house going towards a clump of trees where it crashed 250 yards away, I ran to the back door but the pane had landed with a loud thud, the aircraft appeared not to be on fire just before it crashed. As I began to run to the crash I saw black smoke rise from the trees and almost at once flames came from the surrounding grass, as I arrived at the scene I found parts of the plane scattered over a wide area”.

Mr Arthur Talbot stated: “I was on duty at the airfield that day at 11:40 hours on Monday 29th August 1949, assisting pilots with their equipment etc. After being strapped in and wearing his parachute the canopy cover was closed. Flying Officer Clymo looked down, the all clear was given and the take of was quite good and normal, there was no circling”.

The official investigation into the crash by the Accidents Investigation Branch – Ministry of Civil aviation revealed the following: "Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of pre-crash structural failure or fire in the air. The engine had been examined but this did not reveal any pre crash defect or failure. The cause of the accident remained obscure, but examination of the wreckage did not reveal any evidence, defect or a failure to which the accident could be attributed". It later emerged that the aircraft’s radio had been defective on take off, and one theory is that Flying Officer Clymo tried to regain ground contact by diving through cloud and was unable to pull out of the dive in time.


1. Halley, James (1999). Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.92. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft SA100-VZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1985 p 101)
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/29/W2457:

Revision history:

28-Jan-2014 21:31 Dr. John Smith Added
19-Feb-2015 20:39 Fuxs Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
04-Dec-2019 18:07 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
08-Jan-2020 21:16 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]

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