1943 aircrash near Abergele: RAF Beaufighter VIF X8261

Reader Rol Griffith is looking for details of an aircrash near Abergele in 1943. He writes:
“Does anyone one have any information of a RAF Beaufighter VIF X8261 of 406 Sqn(RCAF) based at RAF Valley which flew into the ground at high speed near Abergele after being blinded by searchlights killing the two crew F/Sgt(Pilot)WI Hereford RCAF & Sgt (Nav)JWE Robinson on 7th June 1943. Where did it crash? Any personal memories?”

Please use the comments section on this page if you have anything to share with Rol.

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2 Responses to 1943 aircrash near Abergele: RAF Beaufighter VIF X8261

  1. Andrew Hesketh says:

    Flight Sergeant Winston Isaac Hereford, a Canadian, is buried in Holyhead. Navigator/Radar Operator John William Everard Robinson is buried in Surrey. RCAF 406 (Lynx) Squadron was based at RAF Valley from March 1943 until November 1943 and ran night interception operations. According to CPAT (Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust) Report No 1249, Military Aircraft Crash Sites, for CADW in February 2014, the map reference for the crash of Beaufighter VI X8261 is SH9376, which puts the crash-site somewhere around Tyddyn Uchaf, and Gopa Woods. I have been unable to find more but (censorship permitting) local newspapers held on fiche at Colwyn Bay library from the week or two after 7 June 1943 would surely contain something. This is fascinating. Good luck, and please update us on any findings.

    • Andrew Hesketh says:

      Not directly relevant but after some further digging here is some information that may provide some context for the searchlight blinding that caused the crash……

      There were Anti-Aircraft and searchlight units dotted around the area to protect shipping heading for Liverpool, often containing vital supplies and / or US troop ships. There were units on the Great Orme, at Colwyn Bay and a training unit at Kinmel Camp. More specifically 216 Searchlight Training Regiment, Royal Artillery, are listed as being at Abergele, though I suspect that is shorthand for the aforementioned training unit at Kinmel Camp. However, I’ve also found a reference to a ‘Q’ site in or near Abergele. Q sites were set up to ‘blind the sky’ and fire AA indiscriminately into the searchlight cones as well as lighting up intense ground fires. Q sites were meant to look like a ‘target area’ to distract German bombers into missing their intended targets and instead bomb the Q site.

      I know from some unconnected research that this definitely (but tragically) worked at least once, when a German bomber that had overshot its Liverpool target homed in on Abergele on 3 October 1940. Flying low along the coastal railway line trying to get its bearings it suddenly saw Tower Hill, corrected itself in panic and jettisoned it’s bomb load as standard practice to minimise the danger inherent in an imminent crash-landing. It avoided crashing and flew on, fate unknown. Unfortunately the bombs landed on a house in Highfield Park off High Street killing sisters Catherine and Margaret Roberts. They are both buried in St. Michael’s churchyard.

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