Hawker Hart Trainer K6482, 152 Squadron, RAF Acklington
crashed The Cheviot on 10th October 1939
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During October 1939 152 Squadron began to reform at RAF Acklington in Northumberland. Gladiator aircraft of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Auxiliary Squadron, who were based at RAF Turnhouse and making the transition to Spitfires, were being transferred on to the strength of 152 Squadron. It was the job of the pilots to ferry these aircraft from RAF Turnhouse to RAF Acklington.
The process of ferrying the Gladiators from Turnhouse began on the morning of 10th October 1939, with F/O Edward Christopher Deanesly tasked to collect Gladiator K7929. He left Acklington in Hart K6482 with Sgt Thomas Mycroft as his passenger, the plan was for F/O Deansley to collect the Gladiator and for Sgt Mycroft to return with the Hart. The weather however had made a turn for the worse and F/O Deanesly misidentified Wemyss Bay on the Firth of Clyde as East Wemyss on the northern side of the Firth of Forth and as a result flew west. Hopelessly lost he made a forced landing in a field which turned out to be on the Isle of Arran. With their location now known they proceeded to Prestwick to refuel and then continued on their way.
By the time they reached Turnhouse it was early afternoon and the weather to the south had worsened. However, despite not obtaining a weather report, it was decided to attempt the flight. Deanesly’s Gladiator was not quite ready so after ensuring Mycroft was comfortable to fly back himself, and having advised him that if he got into trouble he was to take the coastal route, Sgt Mycroft set off back to Acklington, the time was 17:35.
Shepherd James Buchanan was leaving his garden at Goldscleugh, a farm in the valley to the north of The Cheviot, when he saw an aeroplane flying low up the valley from west to east. It was very foggy on the hilltops and visibility was poor in the area. The engine appeared to be running smoothly and when the aircraft reappeared out of the fog it was flying in a northerly direction. James lost sight of the aircraft but he heard it again overhead as if it had turned on a reciprocal heading. Shortly afterwards there was a crash and a flames appeared to be coming from the northern slopes of The Cheviot, the time was 18:30.
On reaching the scene James was unable to get close to the burning wreckage due to the flames, he could see no sign of the pilot and feared the worst. Returning to Goldscleugh he made the 8 mile trip to Hethpool to the nearest telephone to raise the alarm. Acklington were informed of the crash at 20:30. The following day Brigadier Darvell of Wooler organised a search party, and with James Buchanan as a guide the burnt body of Sgt Mycroft was located and brought down from the crash site.
The primary cause of the crash was due to Sgt Mycroft flying direct route between Turnhouse and Acklington and then becoming lost and flying into cloud obscured high ground. A contributing factor was F/O Deanesly, as the more senior officer, allowing Sgt Mycroft to fly back himself without Deanesly as a guide.
Sgt Mycroft was buried at Chevington Cemetery with full military honours, he was only 24 when he died and had less than 100 hours flying experience.
The Crash Site
At the spot where the Hawker Hart crashed, overlooking Goldscleugh Farm, there is a noticeable burnt patch on the ground marked by a small cairn. In this area are various small burnt components from the aircraft. Below this however, in a small ditch, are large section of tubular framework, the tail of the aircraft, one of the undercarriage legs and various other large sections. It appears that the aircraft was broken up at the impact point and dragged onto the softer ground below and buried.
Further down the hill again can be found the radiator from the underside of the fuselage, apparently dragged here and hidden out of view. The Kestrel engine, which was once still at the site, was removed by the recovery team who were sent up to salvage Lancaster KB745, which crashed nearby in 1944. It is likely that this same team were responsible for braking up the Hart wreckage and burying it.