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Thread: 1947 air crash near Naples

  1. #1
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    1947 air crash near Naples

    Can anyone help with details of a crash which took place on 8 March 1947 near Naples? All I know about this is that Lieutenant-Colonel W G H Miles, ex-Royal Marines Signals, was killed in the crash. At the time he was European regional representative of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organisation.

    Any details of this crash would be greatly appreciated.
    Ian Brown

  2. #2
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    8/3/47, KK122, Dakota C4, 216 sqdn, Ischia, Italy.

    The aircraft flew into the side of a mountain at a height of 2400 ft in poor visibility, whilst a significant distance off track and below its safety height.

    Flight Lieutenant Frederick Thompson Bruce, 23, pilot.
    Pilot I David Paton, 23, co-pilot.
    Navigator II Frank George Lewis, 22.
    Signaller II Reginald Charles Arthur Bawler, 22.
    Sergeant Eric William Rowe, 28.
    Mrs Cicely U R Pay, 32.
    Master Simon Pay, 2.
    Private Edmund James Dilley, 19, 1st Btn, The Royal East Kent Regiment.
    Private William Malone, 27, Army Catering Corps.
    Lieutenant Commander Leonard Ernest Scotchcbrook, 31, RNVR.
    Lieutenant Colonel W G H Miles, Royal Marines (retired).
    Mr Thomas Simon Coates Gill.
    Mr Aghanur Harouthunian (alias H H Charmalhalli).

    (information from 'Final Landings' 'A summary of RAF aircraft and combat losses 1946 - 1949' by compiled & edited by Colin Cummings)

    Geoff.

  3. #3
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    Geoff,

    Thanks very much for this info. I knew someone would come up trumps here! Anyway, your help is much appreciated.
    Ian Brown

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    Flight Lieutenant Frederick Thompson Bruce, 23, pilot.
    Pilot I David Paton, 23, co-pilot.
    Navigator II Frank George Lewis, 22.
    Signaller II Reginald Charles Arthur Bawler, 22.
    Sergeant Eric William Rowe, 28.
    Mrs Cicely U R Pay, 32.
    Master Simon Pay, 2.
    Private Edmund James Dilley, 19, 1st Btn, The Royal East Kent Regiment.
    Private William Malone, 27, Army Catering Corps.
    Lieutenant Commander Leonard Ernest Scotchcbrook, 31, RNVR.
    Lieutenant Colonel W G H Miles, Royal Marines (retired).
    Mr Thomas Simon Coates Gill.
    Mr Aghanur Harouthunian (alias H H Charmalhalli).
    What a great cast of characters for a novel.

    The mysterious lady and her young son.

    A foreigner with an alias

    A 'retired' commando officer

    The Catering Corps cockney played by a young Michael Caine

    All crossing post-war Europe in a DC3. Brilliant!

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  5. #5
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    I hadn't noticed this, but now that you mention it, Moggy ...

    Incidentally, the retired commando officer had been a signaller in the Marines, so perhaps that could add to the mystery. He in fact joined the Air Ministry in 1936 but was back with the Admiralty from 1939 helping set up radar stations in Orkney and Shetland.

    There's also the RNVR officer, perhaps an upper-class university graduate.
    Ian Brown

  6. #6
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    I've also discovered that Frederick Thompson Bruce was promoted from an LAC to a Pilot Officer on probation on 14 January 1944, his service number changing from 1605273 to 154969. A useless bit of information, but I post it anyway!
    Ian Brown

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    Originally posted by RadarArchive
    Incidentally, the retired commando officer had been a signaller in the Marines, so perhaps that could add to the mystery. He in fact joined the Air Ministry in 1936 but was back with the Admiralty from 1939 helping set up radar stations in Orkney and Shetland.
    A likely story. Sounds like a 'cover' to me for something far more sinister.

    The RNVR officer was obviously ex-North Atlantic corvettes, still a bit twitched from being torpedoed.

    The graduate? Some kind of shirker, hadn't been in the war. Much animosity between him and Rowe, the grizzled non-com.



    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  8. #8
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    How about Mr Aghanur Harouthunian being an enemy spy who has been captured and is being taken back under armed guard (ie Private Edmund James Dilley, 19, 1st Btn, The Royal East Kent Reg) and under the watchful eye of the MI6 agent who caught him (Mr Thomas Simon Coates Gill)?
    Ian Brown

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    At the point at which she pulls the Luger that until then had been concealed in her muff (Stop sniggering at the back - It's a furry thing for keeping ladies hands warm) it will be revealed that Ciceley is actually married to Aghanur, the young boy being their son.

    She now attempts to wrest control of the aircraft to aid his escape from being shot as a spy.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

  10. #10
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    Perhaps it could become more of a 'Flight of the Pheonix' type story, with the aircraft crashing in a remote location. No-one is killed but their respectives pasts come back to haunt them as they struggle to survive in the wilderness.
    Ian Brown

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    When I visited the Island of Ischia in 2001, a resident told me that "a long time ago" a plane crashed into the side of Monte Epomeo (it happened before his birth, he estimated the 1960ies, but the 1947 RAF-crash is the only one I know from). The people on Ischia at that time were very poor and outbacked (it was before the start of tourism industry) and his uncle told him that shortly after the crash a lot of people came to the site and plundered the wreckage and bodies before local authorities could secure it... Some people are still said to have souvenirs from the crash at home...

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    strewth! what a plot - if somebody writes a script, I'll pitch in with £50 towards the film's production costs.......

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    ..the only problem would be the happy ending

    Alex

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    btw Ischia is an island in front of Naples, any chance to know the original route? I might draw it on a BBQ map that I have here and then draw the actual route that led this unusual bunch of passengers to a terrible death.

    Alex

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    Mr Thomas Simon Coates Gill was married to my Great Aunt. He worked for Longmans Publishing representing them in Cyprus where he lived with his wife (sorry to dispell any theories stated earlier that he could have worked for MI6 !!!). As far as I know he had been trying to get back home (I assume to Cyprus & not to see family in the UK) & had hitched a lift at the last minute on this doomed plane. When my Grt. Aunt died a few years ago I found a series of photos showing the coffins of the victims on a boat going to the mainland & then having a full military burial. My aunt had a painting& photos of the site of the crash. She had told my father all the bodies had been stripped of posessions, so I can confirm that fact.

    It is uncanny how close the fantasy "film plot" of events comes to the rumours of sabotage that my Grt Aunt was told. I'm very interested to have now seen the names of the other victims. Thank you.

  16. #16
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    1947 air crash near Naples

    FEATHERFRIEND
    I am at present doing research into the air crash that happened on 08/03/1947 on the island of Ischia.
    I was born on the island but have lived in England since the 1950’s. I still have family and friends on the island and have been asked by the Mayor of Serrara Fontana to help with his research. He is planning to hold a commemorative service in March 2007 and hopes to be able to contact anyone related to the people who unfortunately lost their lives in this disaster.
    It was therefore with great interest that I read you post on the aviation forum. Would it be possible to discuss this matter in greater detail and I would appreciate the opportunity to view any photographs you may have.

    johniacono
    Last edited by JohnIacono; 15th November 2006 at 15:40.

  17. #17
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    1947 air crash near Naples

    IAN BROWN

    It was with great interest that I read your post on the aviation forum regarding the air crash that occurred on the island of Ischia on the 08/03/1947.
    I have been asked by the Mayor of Serrara Fontana, Cesare Mattera, if I could do some research into this disaster as Mount Epomeo, where the crash occurred, is part of his “commune”. I would be pleased to discover if you obtained any further information that may help in my research. Was your request for details because of a personal interest?
    Many thanks

    johniacono
    Last edited by JohnIacono; 15th November 2006 at 15:41.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadarArchive
    How about Mr Aghanur Harouthunian being an enemy spy who has been captured and is being taken back under armed guard (ie Private Edmund James Dilley, 19, 1st Btn, The Royal East Kent Reg) and under the watchful eye of the MI6 agent who caught him (Mr Thomas Simon Coates Gill)?
    Just clearing up a bit of work that should have been done before May 1945!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnIacono
    IAN BROWN

    It was with great interest that I read your post on the aviation forum regarding the air crash that occurred on the island of Ischia on the 08/03/1947.
    I have been asked by the Mayor of Serrara Fontana, Cesare Mattera, if I could do some research into this disaster as Mount Epomeo, where the crash occurred, is part of his “commune”. I would be pleased to discover if you obtained any further information that may help in my research. Was your request for details because of a personal interest?
    Many thanks

    johniacono
    Sorry for the delay in replying. I'm afraid the only information I have discovered is what is posted by others in this thread. My interest was in the circumstances of the crash itself, due to my interest in Lt-Col Miles and his wartime work on radar.
    Ian Brown

  20. #20
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    Ian
    Thanks for the reply. It was your post that helped uncover some facts I didn't know. Still hoping that someone will be able to help with my research.
    Regards
    johniacono

  21. #21
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    8/3/47, KK122, Dakota C4, 216 sqdn, Ischia, Italy

    Was doing research on my father, Lieutenant Commander Leonard Ernest Scotchbrook, 31, RNVR who is listed as one of the casualties of the ill-fated flight that originated in Athens. Some of the imaginative explanations of the "roles" of the passengers are creative but in my father's case, he was Britain's Naval Attache to Turkey and was en route to the UK to demob from the Navy and head to Hollywood to join Warner Brother as a sound engineer. My Greek mother, grandmother and I (born 9/3/46) were traveling to Southampton by ship when we received news of my father's plane crash. The plane was readying to land in Naples when, due to fog, it slammed into Mount Epomeo. About twenty years ago I visited the site and met an old Catholic priest who was among the first on the scene of the crash. Apparently, a few of the passengers were alive but in bad shape and he administered last rites to them. He was apologetic that the passengers were robbed of their personal possessions, luggage was taken and the plane was stripped bare. He explained that the folks had suffered a lot during the war, were starving and very poor. I guess this tragedy helped others to survive.

  22. #22
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    65th Anniversary memorial service of victims of RAF plane crash on Ischia

    Mayor Caruso of the Municipality of Serrara Fontana on the Island of Ischia is organising a memorial service to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the crash, which will be held on March 9, 2012 on Mount Epomeo.

    Mayor Caruso is extending an invitation to relatives or extended family members of crash victims to attend the memorial service.

    Further information can be obtained from:
    socialiserrara@libero.it

  23. #23
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    My all-time favorite thread, thanks to Moggy's comments.
    Nice that the town still remembers the victims.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

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