Plane Crash in Hinckley during 1937

Bristol Blenheim bomber crashed along Barwell Lane in Hinckley during 1937.

bristol blenheim mk i crashed
A Bristol Blenheim Mk I crashed

3rd December 1937 A Bristol Blenheim Mk I (K7110) of 114 Squadron took off heading north from RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire.

During the flight, the light-bomber developed an issue and the Pilot Officer Sidney Harold Philip Smith (565035) lost control while flying though cloud over north east Warwickshire.

Pilot Officer Smith abandoned the controls and the other two remaining aircrew, he bailed out of the aircraft and parachuted to safety.

Corporal T.E. Barnes wrestled with the controls and managed to gain some control of aircraft, he had previously only accrued two hours of dual piloting instruction. Barnes tried to level the plane off but they were flying at low altitude at this point, they hit a hedge which resulted in one of its twin engines being torn away. The plane crash landed in its belly, skidding along the ground out of control bending the propeller on the remaining engine before striking and killing a horse.

The plane had landed in a field along Barwell Lane in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Corporal T.E. Barnes and Aircraftman A.E. Dearn were helped from the wrecked Blenheim, they were lucky to escape with just a few bruises.

It was found that the Blenheim was damaged beyond repair, the plane was written off by the RAF.

1st March 1938 The London Gazette included a page for the Air Ministry, it showed that Corporal T.E. Barnes (511912) was awarded in recognition of exceptional courage and devotion to duty with the Air Force Medal. Flight Sergeant Barnes would be killed in action during the Second World War, while piloting a Bristol Blenheim (T2125) on a weather reconnaissance of Flushing harbour in the Netherlands on 15th February 1941.

March 1938 Pilot Officer Smith was sent to attend a court martial at RAF Wyton for his cowardness actions of abandoning his aircraft.

Bristol Blenheim Mk I

a bristol blenheim mk i in flight
A Bristol Blenheim Mk I in flight

The Bristol Blenheim was a twin engined light-bomber and carried a crew of three, pilot, navigator/bombardier and wireless (radio) operator/air gunner. The engines were the supercharger-equipped, air-cooled, poppet-valve, radial Bristol Mercury engine capable of 860hp, they were fitted with variable-pitched propellers. The aircraft had an all metal stressed-skin construction and the landing gear was retractable.

The armament consisted of a .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun in the port wing, powered dorsal turret fitted with a .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun. 1939 onwards the gun would be upgraded to a .303 in Vickers VGO machine gun.

The Blenheim could carry a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb load that was carried in the internal bomb bay located in the center section of the fuselage.

March 1937 At the time of when the Bristol Blenheim first entered service with 114 Squadron at RAF Wyton, it was considered to be the fastest light bomber. There would be hundreds of Blenheim's available when Britain went to war in September 1939.

From 1942 the Blenheim's were gradually being replaced by de Havilland Mosquitoes and Bristol Beaufighters, by 1944 all Blenheim's would be replaced.

114 Squadron at RAF Wyton

bristol blenheims of 114 squadron during 1937
Bristol Blenheim of 114 Squadron during 1937

December 1936 No.114 Squadron was reformed at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, the bomber squadron was the first to receive the new Bristol Blenheim high speed light bomber. The Blenheims replaced the outdated Hawker Hind single-engined biplane which the Squadron was initially allocated.

December 1939 The squadron now equipped with Blenheim IVs was moved from RAF Wyton to Vraux, in France. The squadron would be used for reconnaissance initially, then was used for bombing enemy troop columns.

May 1940 The Squadron was moved from Vraux in France to RAF Wattisham in Suffolk for a short amount of time, and then moved to RAF Horsham St. Faith in Norfolk.

July 1940 114 Squadron was used for bombing the channel ports in France and Germany.

March 1941 The Squadron came under the command of No.18 Group Coastal Command to help provide convoy escorts and anti-submarine patrols during the Battle of the Atlantic campaign.

July 1941 114 Squadron came under Bomber Command once again and would go on to take part in the bombing of the Cologne power stations.

December 1941 Now operating from North Scotland, the Blenheim's would be used for attacking an airfield at Herdla in Norway, this would help the British Combined Operations raid against the Norwegian islands of Vaagsö and Maaloy which were held by the Germans.

January 1942 The squadron was involved with night intruder attacks against enemy airfields, during May and June they were used for diversionary attacks on the airfields that were used for Lufftwaffe night-fighters, which were at Bonn, Vechta, Twente, Ardorf and Leeuwarden.

November 1942 114 Squadron was posted to Algeria in North Africa and was re-equipped with Blenheim Vs to give air support to the First Army in Operation Torch.

The Squadron see the reminder of the war operating from Sicily and Italy.