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Vickers Warwick  BV411 (B4)  OFF SUMBURGH     

                                                 `We fly to save`

Warwick B4

(a photo of B4)

This Warwick was lost off Sumburgh, Shetland and once again as in BV417 (see Orkney projects) all the crew survived.

The Aircraft took off from Sumburgh and almost immediatly an engine caught fire !

F/O Jack Murray, skillfully brought BV411 back to the airstrip and managed a crash landing but the aircraft overshot the end of the runway and went into the sea breaking up on the rocks in shallow water.

BV411 crash site(Ted Russell)   

All of the crew climbed out of the burning aircraft and crawled over the slippery rocks back to shore!  

The crew on B4 at Sumburgh were. Jack Murray, John E.Bartholomew, Cledwyn Evans and Ted Russell plus three passengers who were being giving a lift to Wick. 1011532 Cpl Lyon. 1030325 Cpl Rodber and 1340765 Lac Shields.  

 

TED RUSSELL` S ACCOUNT. BV411 Sumburgh September 14th 1944.

"We took off at 18.25hrs en route to Wick. I was in the second pilots seat, it was rough With lots of vibration, not unusual as we had brakes on and plenty of revs to commence our run with the restrictions at Sumburgh. We started to climb and I Noticed the oil pressure dropping on the Port engine together with a temperature Rise. Jack said" he was going to feather the Engine "and I said "I am out of here on to Radio, do you want emergency "Jack said "yes", so I went on the set and sent out the Distress signals and fixed down the key, The crew were told to get into crash Positions and we instructed our passengers to do the same. I then changed the signal to S.O.S.

 W/AG E. Russell.   Photo: Ted Russell.

Jack was keeping me informed of height etc, then told me get rid of fuel he was going to try and make it back. Fire started on the remaining engine and started to come down the fuselage on the Starboard side. We did not have the height to use the long runway, so came in sea to sea with a strong cross tail wind, we could not sit down until about two thirds had gone, we tried to raise the undercarriage but it would not fold because of the hydraulic lock, after much stabbing of brakes one wheel went up,we carried on like that loosing bits and went over the grass then stalled more or less onto very large rocks that took off the outer wings, front turret, wind screen. Instrument Panel a wheel and bomb bay overload tank.

When we stopped the port engine was off and all after the mid up turret broke off and turned up 90o. I got the airman on the floor near me up, moved to the Navs compartment and there was Bart on the floor ( in his crash position ) with all his gear and table on top of him. I lifted that off him and stood him up under the Astro dome gave him a shove and followed so fast I hit my head on his boots. I should mention that the flames were blowing over the hatch and the sea was on fire. The tide was further in than when the photo' was taken but I still wonder how we missed the bolts that should have been holding the engine on we could not swim or stand up due to the rocks and seaweed, but we crawled very fast. I put my hand on the airman's shoulder on the beach, his great coat was like tar and just crumbled away, he was more concerned about loosing the fresh crofters eggs he was taking home to his Mother!!. It was his first flight, I believe he went to Wick on an old Jarrow (Handley Page Harrow) they used for the newspaper run and it crash landed, Wonder if he ever flew again. I still can't believe how lucky we were to get out without to many injuries or burns".

Ted Russell 281 Squadron R.A.F. Coastal Command 18 Group.

   

Above left:  Colour photo of  Navigator F/O John E.`Bart` Bartholomew.  Photo: Blair Bartholomew.  

Above right:  Crew in  front of their Warwick `B4`  L to R:  Nav F/O Bart Bartholomew, 2/Pilot H.Bath, W/AG  Ted Russell,  Pilot Jack Murray, W/AG Cledwyn Evans, W/AG Colin Acton and A/G F/O C.H.Haywood. Photo:  Ted Russell.   

Dave Earl went to look for BV411 and was informed by a local airport worker that the crash site is now under the extended airstrip at Sumburgh Airport! This runway runs E to W and it was the eastern end that was extended,but we have still to establish which runway was used by BV411 for if NE to SW was used then there is still a possibility that the Warwick ditched on the NE side of the runway and there could still be some remains.

 

 

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