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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 225748
Last updated: 14 January 2022
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Date:30-SEP-1939
Time:10:40 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic bttl model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Fairey Battle Mk I
Owner/operator:150 Squadron Royal Air Force (150 Sqn RAF)
Registration: K9387
MSN: F.2976
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Morhange, Moselle department, Grand Est, north-eastern France -   France
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Écury-sur-Coole, France
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Fairey Battle Mk.1 K9387 (JN-R) of 150 Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) 30 September 1939 when lost (failed to return) on combat operations

In the late afternoon of 30 September 1939, six Battle bombers from no.150 Squadron/Allied Air Strike Force had taken off from Écury-sur-Coole under the lead of Squadron Leader MacDonald to fly high-altitude photo reconnaissance mission over the area of Saarbrücken-Merzig. During the approach flight one crew experienced engine failure and turned back to base. Five remaining crews continued the mission and they were picked up by 7./Lg.Nachr.Rgt.12.

The raid was reported to I./JG53. Two four-element sections from 2./JG53 were scrambled and about 12.00 hrs the English formation was sighted 7 km West of Saarbrücken. Of the five remaining Battles, four were shot down and one crash-landed back at base and burned out. Battle K9387 was abanoned in flight over Morhange (German: Mörchingen, Lorraine Franconian Märchinge) a commune in the Moselle department in Grand Est in north-eastern France (at approximate coordinates: 48°55′28″N 6°38′11″E). Of the three crew of Battle K9387, two were killed, and one survived to be taken POW

Crew of Battle K9387:
Sergeant Leslie B Webber (observer): survived uninjured, see below for his own account.
Flying Officer Ferald Michel Clifford Corelli (pilot, Service Number 32190, age 26) - killed in action
Aircraftman 1st Class Kenneth Vear Gay (Wireless Op/Air Gunner, Service Number 551690, aged 19) - killed in action

There was an Eye Witness Account in the "Ellesmere Guardian", Volume LX, Issue 96, 5 December 1939, Page 2 from Leslie Webber, the sole survivor of Battle K9387:

"PLANE ABLAZE
OBSERVER'S THRILLING ESCAPE FIGHT WITH GERMAN MACHINES
(From The Guardian's London Correspondent)
LONDON, November 11.
A thrilling story of an escape from a blazing aeroplane flying five miles up was told this week by Sergeant-Observer Leslie Webber, who came home on leave to marry Miss Phyllis Popperwell, of Devonport. We were on a reconnaissance flight over an important point in the German lines," he said. Our plane, in which there was a pilot, gunner and myiself, was flying at 28 000 ft when we encountered Messerchmitt fighters. There was intense firing, but although outnumbered we managed to shoot down several of their machines. "My job was to take photographs and, acting to orders I continued my work as the fight went on.

Then, to my horror, I felt the plane lurch as though out of control. I leaned out and realised that the worst had happened. Both the pilot and the gunner had been shot, and the machine was on fire. I tried to get to the pilot, it was impossible. Suddenly the machine fell into a dive. "There was only one thing I could do—to risk disconnecting my oxygen apparatus and jump for it. I worked my way to the rear and disconnecting my oxygen mask, jumped out. It was my first jump. "As I fell a German fighter dived towards me. I knew I was supposed to pull the rip cord at 7,000 ft. but with the plane still circling round me I was afraid that I might be shot down. By my reckoning I had dropped about 5,000 ft when I eventually pulled the ring.

Fortunately there was a good wind and it carried me over the French lines. After drifting for about seven miles I landed in a field. As I did so, my parachute began to spill wind. I hit the ground hard, was knocked unconscious. When I came round, a group of French Army officers surrounded me. They thought I was a German airman, and each had his revolver drawn. Although dazed I managed to shout 'Anglais.' They examined my uniform under my flying kit and satisfied that I was not an enemy, began to shower congratulations on me"

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft K1000-K9999 (James J. Halley Air Britain 1976 p 76)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/21: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14142000
3. The Battle File, Sidney Shail, Air Britain 1997 p 132
4. http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=30866
5. http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=1899
6. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2235057/corelli,-fernald-michael-clifford/
7. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2235104/gay,-kenneth-vear/
8. http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=1899
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morhange


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
02-Jun-2019 18:42 Dr. John Smith Added
03-Jun-2019 09:35 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]

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