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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 210243
Last updated: 17 October 2021
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Date:20-NOV-1939
Time:day
Type:Bristol Beaufort Mk I
Owner/operator:Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd
Registration: L4468
MSN:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:River Severn, Bristol Channel, off Avonmouth Docks, Somerset -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Test
Departure airport:Filton Aerodrome, Filton, Bristol, Gloucestershire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Bristol Beaufort Mk.I L4468, Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd., Filton Aerodrome, Filton, Bristol, Gloucestershire: Written off (destroyed) 20/12/39 when dived into the River Severn out of cloud during test flight, off Avonmouth docks, Avonmouth, Somerset.

Pilot - Flt Lt Paul Le Mesurier Carodyce Deacon (RAFO, aged 30) - was killed

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Western Daily Press" - Thursday 25 January 1940):

PILOTS CRASH INTO SEA
Verdict at Bristol Inquest
The adjourned inquest of Paul Carodyce LeMesurier Deacon (aged 30), of 10, Beaufort Road Clifton, who died when an aeroplane in which was conducting a test flight crashed into the water off Avonmouth docks on December 20, was resumed yesterday by the Bristol city coroner (Mr A. E. Barker) A verdict of "Accidental death" was recorded.

Dr. A. D. Fraser, the pathologist at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, said that death was due to concussion following fracture of the skull accelerated by multiple injuries.

In answer to a question the doctor said had examined Deacon's heart three months before he would have pronounced it fit. Some unexpected shock mid-air might have affected his heart, although he would have been fit for normal purposes of flying.

Arthur John Pegg of Hazlecote, Rudgeway, who described himself as an assistant test pilot, said the machine was and found airworthy. He described Deacon as a highly competent pilot, and he was looking perfectly fit just before he made the flight.

Ronald Alfred Kennett said that he saw the 'plane come suddenly straight out of the clouds in an almost perpendicular dive and dive into the water.

Frederick Francis White, of 148, Cotswold road, whose boat put out to sea after the accident, described how the pilots body was recovered from the water. "His parachute was open, spread out in tide. It was attached to him."

(Arthur John Pegg is of course Arthur John 'Bill' Pegg later chief test pilot at Bristol Aeroplane Co)

Beaufort L4468 crashed in the Bristol Channel on 20/12/39. The entry for L4468 in the sequential Register (delivery record) held by the Air Historical Branch and the RAF Museum is missing (the bottom of the page with the entry for this aircraft is damaged), while the Form 78 (Airframe Record Card) shows no delivery to the RAF, only an allotment to 19 MU RAF St. Athan in December 1939, and a reference to an AID letter to say that the aircraft crashed during flight trials, this information leading to it being struck off charge on 23/4/40.

The Contract record for L4468 has it as 'Crashed', with an illegible comment that includes the date 20/12/39, quoting an AID reference. All the Beauforts with adjacent serial numbers were in the course of delivery in December 1939.

NOTE:Some published sources (see link #5) give the crash locations as "Cribbs Causeway" which one mile from Filton Aerodrome, and two miles inland. (Which would make a crash into water impossible!) qoute:

"Beaufort L4468 does not appear in the listing as the Air Ministry recorded it as crashing in the Severn off Avonmouth. However, Air- Britain's Flight Testing Accidents book says 'Cribb's Causeway' which was about a mile west of the then existing Filton airfield and two miles inland. Wings over Gloucester says it was lost on 20.12.39 and the pilot, Flt Lt Deacon, was killed and his body washed up at Avonmouth."

However, the above newspaper report would appear to rule out the crash of L4468 as being at Cribbs Causeway. Unusually, despite wartime censorship restrictions, the deceased pilot was named in the report.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1983)
2. The Times London 18 December 1939
3. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1939a.htm
4. http://www.rafcommands.com/archive/06692.php
5. http://www.aviation-links.co.uk/Gloucestershire%20Aircraft%20Accidents.pdf
6. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?15143-Flt-Lt-Deacon/page2
7. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8253317?descriptiontype=Full&ref=AIR+76/129/93


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
30-Apr-2018 18:24 Dr. John Smith Added

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