The aircraft had taken-off from Ashbourne on a night cross-country exercise.
At 0145, while returning to base, the Whitley dived almost vertically into the ground near Weston Underwood, Derbyshire. Sadly, all on board were killed.
The crew were:
1324488 Flight Sergeant J W E COOPER Pilot Aged 24
1621980 Sergeant H COWAN Navigator Aged 21
1685214 Sergeant W C NORCROSS Wireless Op./ Air Gunner Aged 21
1671717 Sergeant W B SMITH Bomb Aimer Aged 21
2206480 Sergeant M M LYON Air Gunner Aged 18
Due to the heavy, high-speed impact, three of the crew still lie with the aircraft.
At the time, it was impossible to recover their bodies, and, on 1st August 1944, a Service of Committal was held at the crash site by Canon Farrow, Vicar of St. Saviour's Church, Ashbourne.
Sergeant Smith was interred at Ashbourne, while Sergeant Lyon was taken for burial at St. Helens.
The Court of Inquiry speculated that either the pilot could have either lost control, or passed out and collapsed on the controls, but went on to say that there was "no supporting evidence" and that the cause was "not known".
The memorial at the crash site of BD230 on Bullhurst Hill.
A close-up of the inscription.
Sergeant William Brooksbank Smith's grave at Ashbourne Cemetery.