Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Curtiss P40 Tomahawk AH744

As you will probably have noticed on the blog I have visited several air crash sites in the Pennines over the last year or so and recently began recording what is left of them.  Part of my motivation comes from the fact that some of these sites are disappearing due to the actions of collectors - an activity I understand is illegal nowadays without a license. 
I have to be honest and say that I have mixed feelings about writing about such sites, which is why I do not provide any location details, but on the other hand I do feel these sites deserve to be recognised as memorials to those who died.  This latter point was brought home to me recently when I was contacted by a relative of a crewmember who lost their life in one of these accidents so that they could visit the place themselves.
In April I visited another site, namely that of a Curtiss P40 Tomahawk AH744 that crashed on a remote Teesdale moor on 10th February 1943 while on a training exercise.
There is some conflicting information about the aircraft and the reasons why it was actually in the Teesdale area, but the general consensus regarding the accident itself is that the aircraft hit the ground with one of its wings while trying to turn in cloud and then broke up across the moor. 
Despite the fact the aircraft had been spotted earlier in the day by a Royal Observer Corps post based in Barnard Castle, continuing poor weather and low cloud hampered the search and it was not until the 13 February that the crash site was spotted from the air.  Once located, a team approached the site on foot, but sadly the 29 year old pilot Flying Officer Henry (Harry) E Wright had not survived the initial impact.
Again I only had a very general location for the crash site, but with clear weather did not have too much trouble in finding it. 
 Impact crater

Despite the passing of some 70 years and the actions of collectors who have taken the tail fin, wing, engine and propeller as well as other smaller items it looked as if the accident had only recently occurred.
Wing section.  The dark material is the anti-slip material on the walk area
There are thought to be at least two other crash sites within a few miles of this one, a Tiger Moth NM213 in which the pilot was flung out on impact and survived and a Master T8614 in which the Pilot - 2nd Officer Richard Horry Winn was killed, however the actual locations do not appear to be known. 

Text/images copyright David Forster


  1. Interesting, but sad at the same time. It's important these poor chaps are remembered and their stories told. Too much of our history goes unrecorded.
    Cheers, Alen

    1. I think you are right that that too much of our history goes unrecorded Alen, especially so, when it comes to ordinary people, some of whom have done extraordinary things in their lives. This is not the corporate clinical experience you find at some of our historic sites that are cluttered with info boards and signs, this is real history in the raw and you can still feel it when you are there. As you say - "interesting but sad at the same time".

      The Master aircraft that came down on a nearby hill does not appear to have been recorded at all, other than a few lines in official documents saying it was lost. One day I will head up again to see if I can locate the site.
      Cheers, David