Monday 29 June 2020

Canberra Bomber Crash

At 6.45pm on 21st November 1961 an English Electric Canberra crashed into the canal at Tiverton. The cold war era aircraft, registration XM266, was part of No. 3 Squadron RAF on a high-low-high training exercise from RAF Geilenkirchen in Germany to RAF Chivenor in North Devon.

During the low part of the exercise at 4,000 feet, they suffered an engine fire and entered a spiral dive. Both the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Roger Moore, and the navigator, Flying Officer Martin Archard, were killed.

An extract from the official Board of Inquiry report:

The aircraft took off for a United Kingdom cross-country flight in the High Low High profile.The pilot climbed to Flight Level 310 and subsequently let down over south-west England under radar surveillance. Contact was lost at 4,000 ft and the aircraft was later reported to have crashed at West Manley. Both the pilot and navigator were killed. Weather conditions at the time were four-eights stratus at 1,000 ft, visibility 3,000 yards with continuous slight rain. Cat 5/Two killed. Provisional Cause Coding - Unknown.

In 2003, during dredging, polluted silt was removed from the canal, along with many fragments from the aircraft.

There is an information board at the site on the canal with a memorial stone set beneath it:

Canal Information Board
Canal Information Board

18/07/2021 Update: DevonLive published an in-depth article about the crash which you can read here.