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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 207863
Last updated: 17 January 2022
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Time:14:10 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic bttl model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Fairey Battle Mk I
Owner/operator:185 Squadron Royal Air Force (185 Sqn RAF)
Registration: K7664
MSN: F.2422
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RAF Henlow, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:RAF Henlow, Bedfordshire
Destination airport:RAF Thornaby, North Yorkshire
Fairey Battle K7664, 185 Squadron, RAF Thornaby, North Yorkshire: One of a batch of 155 aircraft (K7558-K7712) Delivered by Fairey between May 1937 and May 1938 to Contract 424738/35, all built at Stockport. Written off (damaged beyond repair) 11/11/38 when crashed on take-off, hitting Air Ministry employees in hut at RAF Henlow, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. Neither of the crew of two were seriously injured, but one person in the hut that was struck by Battle K7664 was killed.

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Western Morning News" Saturday 12 November 1938):

Workman Killed, Airmen Escape
When a plane taking off from the R.A.F. aerodrome at Henlow, Beds, yesterday struck a hut in which two men were working, one of them was killed and the other injured, and the 'plane was severely damaged. This accident occurred not long after an incoming plane from the same aerodrome had come down and been damaged at Shillington. a few miles away. An officer was hurt in that mishap. The Henlow depot fire tender had left for Shillington when the other accident occurred on the Henlow aerodrome sports ground. The machine caught the hut, slewed round, and landed badly damaged on the football pitch"

Harry Abbiss (aged 48, workman in hut) killed
Harry Dilley (workman in hut) injured
Pilot Officer Cecil Cakebread (pilot of Battle K7664) unhurt
Sgt Wood (passenger in Battle K7664) unhurt

... and from 185 Squadron’s Operations Record Book the same day :

"Henlow 11/11/38 14.10 hrs
Battle aircraft K8136 of No. 185 Squadron, Thornaby, failed to clear sports ground fence on edge of aerodrome when taking off after visiting station, and crashed into hut on sports ground, killing one civilian groundsman - Mr Harry Abbiss, and dangerously injuring another groundsman, Mr Harry Dilley, both employed at Henlow Camp. The pilot, P/O Cakebread and passenger Sgt Ward were unhurt. (The pilot had attempted take off with the propeller incorrectly set in coarse pitch.)

Note that the above crash was at about the same time, and very close to the site of the crash of Miles Magister L8136 at Shillington, Bedfordshire; indeed, as referred to above, RAF Henlow had just sent a crash tender and fire fighting truck to the site of that crash. Hence the two separate crashes have been mixed up over the years, due to the proximity of time and location


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft K1000-K9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1976 page 63)
3. Aircraft Record Card (Air Ministry Form AM78):

Revision history:

19-Mar-2018 17:18 Dr. John Smith Added
10-Nov-2018 18:38 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

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