Hurricane Z5051

Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIB Z5051 (YB-H), 4 Delivery Flight, RAF Inverness
crashed Rochester, Redesdale on 9th December 1941


PositionRank/TitleFull NameAgeService NumberInjury
PilotSgtFrancis Henry Leaver20R74333Injured

Accident Details

The aircraft, an ex-17 Squadron machine, was being ferried from Inverness to Grangemouth near Edinburgh. Maintaining an altitude of 6000ft because of low cloud Sgt Leaver, believing he was over Perth, began his descent but struggled to find a gap in the clouds through which to pinpoint his position, and he flew around for some time until his fuel supply was exhausted.

Sgt Leaver had no option but to break through the cloud in the hope he could find somewhere to land, but found he was flying amongst a range of hills. He continued flying south until the engine of his machine cut due to fuel shortage and he glided the aircraft down onto a patch of rough moorland just south of Rochester village just to the west of the A68. Sgt Leaver sustained a lacerated wound over his right eyebrow when his head struck the gun sight. First on the scene was an Army medical officer, who helped the injured airmen out of the cockpit. Sgt Leaver was face was covered in blood and he was suffering from shock. Arrangements were made for his transportation to the General Hospital in Newcastle where he spent a number of weeks recovering, being discharged on 12th January 1942.

Sgt Leaver would go on to make a full recovery and switch to flying bombers. Sadly he was lost on a raid to Munchengladbach on 31st August 1943 when a night fighter shot down the Halifax he was piloting. He is buried in Heverlee war cemetery.

The Crash Site

The aircraft came down on a small stretch of moorland known locally as Stobbs Moss and only a hundred yards or so from the main A68 road. It left a deep furrow in the soft ground so it is likely that some tiny fragments might still remain.

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