Defiant AA306

Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I AA306, 6 Ferry Pilot Pool
crashed near Gilsland, Cumbria on 22nd June 1941


PositionRank/TitleFull NameAgeService NumberInjury
PilotF/OJohn Arthur MarksUninjured

Accident Details

The aircraft was being ferried to Prestwick by First Officer John Arthur Marks, a pilot of the Air Transport Auxiliary. The accident report suggests that the machine was being ferried from Wolverhampton, with ATA records suggesting that the first leg of the flight was from the ATA Pool at Ratcliffe Hall to RAF Lichfield. This seems rather odd as Lichfield is closer to Wolverhampton than Ratcliffe, so one wonders if the aircraft had been picked up from Wolverhampton the previous day and flown to the ATA Pool at Ratcliffe ready for the flight north the following day.

The weather on the first leg of the flight from Ratcliffe to Lichfield was favourable, however low cloud was encountered as the aircraft headed north along the western side of the Pennine hills. The weather worsened the further north F/O Marks flew and he panicked and descended to look for a place to land. Spotting what appeared to be a flat field, he put the aircraft down on what turned out to be a stretch of rough moorland. The undercarriage dug into the ground and the aircraft nosed over, F/O Marks was unhurt.

The crash was attributed to F/O Marks continuing too long in bad weather and for losing his head instead of taking stock of his situation.  It was felt that if he took more time he could have found a suitable place to put the aircraft down safely as he was only a few minutes flying time from several airfields.  It was also noted that he failed to obtain a weather forecast for the route, contrary to ATA Standing Orders.

It was also noted that F/O Marks had been in a recent crash in which he also hadn’t made the best of a difficult situation.  On this occasion he lost a Hurricane in poor weather.

The Crash Site

The aircraft crashed on rough moorland near Slackhouse Farm some 3 miles west of Gilsland.  There is little local recall of the crash but it is believed to be on the moor east of Harrow’s Beck.  The aircraft was repaired so the chances of anything remaining at the crash site are quite slim.

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