A.W. Whitley Mk. V


42 O.T.U.

Crashed 24:07:44.


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.

BD230-01 BD230-02 BD230 - Smith

Sergeant William Brooksbank Smith's grave at Ashbourne Cemetery.