Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V night bomber Mk V BD233

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Teletran, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Teletran

    Teletran Member

    Good evening,

    I am researching the death of my Great Uncle (William John Knapp) who was an Sergeant Observer for Coastal Command and was one of 5 or 6 crew that crashed when they were out on a training session (OTU '3') on the night of the 19th of August 1942 near Holy Island UK (Sgt Stanley John Collett appears to have been the most senior member of the crew). There are many threads across various web sites where most use a reference that the plane must have struck something whilst flying low and crashed on the sand dunes, however later threads imply it crashed into the sea, not on land . Is there any definitive record of the crash? I am told that sadly none of the bodies were recovered thus backing up the new argument that it crashed in the sea however I am somewhat confused, any help would be appreciated.

    Many thanks

  2. dp_burke

    dp_burke Junior Member

  3. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

  4. Teletran

    Teletran Member

    Thanks for the response alieneyes, I read those links before I posted this post as they are the source of the confusion, earlier reports from 10 years plus ago state it crashed on the dunes but as new as last year it is believed it crashed out at sea, the photos in the American site of the pulley do not confirm what plane they came from and there were multiple crashes there over the years. I wondered if there was any 'official' records anywhere?
    Thanks again
    alieneyes likes this.
  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Well, hello
    For you to know he was a Sgt Observer , you should also have found the CWGC website that gives the following
    KNAPP, WILLIAM JOHN. Sergeant Observer. Service Number 1375619. Died 19/08/1942. Aged 28
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Son of William Claude and Lilian Knapp; husband of Winifred Mabel Knapp, of Wimbledon Surrey.
    Buried at BERWICK-UPON-TWEED CEMETERY Section C.A. Row 1400.

    So his body was recovered and has a known grave for you to visit if you do come to the UK.
    If you need a photo of the headstone, Find a Grave or Pals here may be able to oblige, as I sense you don't currently live in the UK.

    it's been discussed on here previously, AW Whitley V BD233 19/08/1942
    but as a Coastal Command OTU there doesn't appear to be an accurate crew list.
    It crashed in Northumberland, but Sgt Knapp is the only apparent crew member buried nearby, either the rest of the crew were not recovered or were taken to their home addresses for local burial.

    From the previous thread, the pilot had been hit in the eye by a bullet, and a large section of a ships mast was embedded in the wreckage, the implication that it had flown too low over some nearby vessels and been hit by "friendly" fire... too low to recover with a mortally wounded pilot.

    Two pilots have been associated with this aircraft Sgt S J Collett and Sgt B E Ridett, and they have no known grave, being commemorated at Runnymede. How your great uncle came to be found may be revealed in contemporary local newspaper reports, which may also clarify if other bodies were recovered. You have some consolation in that there is a grave to visit.

    Can I just enquire as to how you are able to link him to BD233?
    Have you applied for his Service records, which should give clearer information.
  6. Teletran

    Teletran Member

    Thanks for the detailed response, and yes I have the photo of the gravestone, thanks. I will be applying for his record shortly although it will be a redacted version unfortunately. My only link to him and BD233 are the threads posted on various websites. The story down from the family was that the plane hit a balloon, I assumed some kind if barrage balloon but this seems now to be incorrect. I have not found anything yet on The British newspaper archive but I'll keep on looking. I'm writing up his story for the wide family members hence why I keen to find out how the accident happened.
  7. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    The official record is in the process of being transferred over from the RAF to the AIR81 series of files at Kew. But don't hold your breath. They've been at it for ages and still in 1941.

    I noted there was some discrepancy with the makeup of the crew. Ross McNeill, who also visits this board, is the author of "Coastal Command Losses, Vol 1". He's the man to talk to.

    He did, some time back, post the crewlist:

    420819 - Unaccounted airwomen and airmen - 19-8-1942 - Page 2

    Answered on page 3 of that thread.


  8. Teletran

    Teletran Member

    Shame about the delay at Kew, I'll see if I can track down Ross McNeill, thanks again.

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