Tuesday, 15 July 1941

RAF Newmarket

In the early afternoon F/Lt Jackson takes off in Whitley Z6727 with three French personnel aboard and an Air Ministry official. The Whitley’s starboard engine fails shortly after take off, and the Whitley crashes ‘near the junction of the London-Cambridge road’. The accident is recorded in the Stradishall log at 1535. In any aircraft, whether it’s a glider or a bomber, the minute or so directly after take-off is most hazardous if something crucial decides to malfunction; the aircraft has insufficient airspeed to do much else but land straight ahead on whatever happens to be below, in this case a telegraph post at the junction. The Whitley is underpowered to start with, and Jackson is unlikely to have had many options. The Stradishall logbook records that all eight crew have been taken to the White Lodge hospital.

F/Lt Jackson doesn’t fly another operational sortie until September. Merrick records that the crash severs telephone communications between London and the North of England. This apparently makes Jackson highly unpopular with the RAF hierarchy. Jackson is unlikely to have minded; anyone surviving an engine-failure shortly after take-off in a Whitley would consider himself fortunate to be alive. Freddie Clark thought it likely that this was an experimental flight with EUREKA/REBECCA. This follows a written request in May by Major Harold Perkins for the Flight to carry out some wireless experiments.