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Edward Patrick Mortimer


Flight Ltnt Edward Patrick Mortimer - Service Ref 37521. Born 17th March 1911. Royal Air Force. Died 7th August 1940. Grave Ref Row B Grave 21 Bury, Huntingdonshire. Next of kin from Kingswood, Bristol.

Flight Ltnt Edward Patrick Mortimer was the pilot of a Blenheim MkIV P4902 that stalled and spun into the ground near Cranfield on the evening of 7th August 1940. At the Public Record Office is the following abridged Accident Report: Mertlands Farm, North Crawley, Bucks, at 2235hrs on 7th August, 1940. The pilot’s instructions were to fly from Upwood to Bicester 53 miles, Bicester to Northampton, 25 miles and back to base 33½ miles. At a time when the aeroplane should have been near Northampton it was seen flying in an easterly direction 20 miles SE of the scheduled course and close to Cranfield aerodrome where night flying was taking place. When opposite the wireless telegraphy station the machine was seen to stagger. Five seconds later at about 1500 ft and while still in flying position it lost speed and spun to the ground. The aeroplane struck the ground at a moderate speed and came to a stop pointing east, the engines were not at the time. From its position and the proximity of trees immediately behind it could be judged to have been flattening out, probably in a left hand spin. Fire occurred immediately and destroyed all the centre of the machine. All safety belts were burnt. One body was found in the navigator’s compartment and one in the gunner’s cockpit. The third, that of the pilot, was lying face down 72 yards east of the wreckage and he had evidently fallen from a considerable height. His parachute was unopened and was on the ground 4 ft away; the harness was free. The rip- cord had not been pulled. No parts broken or otherwise were found to show the circumstances under which he left the machine. The engines were extensively damaged by fire were stripped but appeared to have been in good order at the time of the accident. Examination of the pilot’s parachute harness showed that the release ring had not been turned and while in the locked position had been driven back by direct impact on the front. This had forced the spin- loaded plunger out through the aluminium casing and had released the catches and then the harness. From this it may be seen that the harness was in position on the pilot’s striking the ground. The investigation concluded that the pilot may have lost his way, was trying to identify Cranfield aerodrome and on suddenly becoming aware of the risk of collision with the night flying machines stalled the aeroplane while climbing. Alternatively it was thought possible that on loosing sight of the aerodrome flares he lost control in the “black-out”. There is no reference to the heroic actions of Aircraftsman Hollowday.

Above a Blenheim MkIV

Above Bury Cemetry

Above 34 RAF headstones at Bury Cemetery, Cambridgeshire which includes Flight Ltnt Edward Patrick Mortimer. Also killed in the accident were Sgt (Air Gnr.) Dennis Frank ALVES RAF, aged 21, son of James and Ethel Alves, of Walsall, Staffordshire Sgt (Obs.) David Allen GIBBS RAFVR, son of Frederick Henry and Kathleen Ethel Gibbs, of Paignton. Gibbs is buried in his home town while Alves, with Mortimer, is buried in Bury Cemetery near RAF Upwood.

Above the grave of Edward Mortimer at Bury Cemetry.

Above left: Edward Patrick Mortimer from the March 1933 Clifton XV photo. Above right: from the March 1934 Clifton XV photo.