CASTLE Percy John 429774

LEST WE FORGET 

Flying Officer Percy John CASTLE 

Service No: 429774
Born: Melbourne VIC, 5 October 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 October 1942 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 30 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Hixon, Staffordshire
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 30 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft X3357), Staffordshire, 16 October 1944, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Chester (Blacon) Cemetery, Cheshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Elsie Elizabeth Castle; husband of Gwendoline Ida Castle, of Brighton, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Brighton VIC
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the 16th October 1944, Wellington X3357 took off from RAF Hixon at 1800 hours for a solo evening navigation detail of approximately 2 hours 40 minutes duration.  At 2141 hours, the aircraft transmitted by wireless requesting a course to steer.  Nine minutes later, the aircraft collided with trees and a house, and crashed at Ingestre Park on the south west side of the airfield. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of X3357 were:

Flying Officer Percy John Castle (429774) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Wilfred Pearson Heatley (436194) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Ronald Charles Parker (435406) (Air Bomber)
Flying Officer Geoffrey Bruce Hope Sandilands (421095) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Phillip Edward Burton Vallender (436015) (Pilot)

A Flying Accident Report later stated: “The Court was of the opinion that the Pilot was circling in low stratus cloud below the safety height of the area where the accident occurred, and the aircraft flew into some trees and a house whilst in a steep turn estimated at 60 degrees when he collided with the trees.  The Pilot did not think he had lost control of the aircraft as he had received a QDM one minute before crashing, but this cannot be proved.  No blame is attached to any one other than the Pilot, although the meteorological information was wrong as it did not forecast low stratus cloud, and this was a contributory cause for the crash.”

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/7/669