Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Z9362 Crash at Saltcoats

One of the lesser-known local stories of World War II in North Ayrshire is the crash of a Whitley bomber, which crashed into the sea 2 miles off from Saltcoats harbour in 1943, with the loss of 3 lives.

The crew of Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Z9362 of 24 Operational Training Unit were being prepared for active service. They were tasked with undertaking a night navigation exercise and at around midnight on Saturday 1st May/Sunday 2nd May 1943 they took off from Honeybourne, Worcestershire, England. Five airmen were onboard, and with the constant threat of Luftwaffe intruders they could have been engaged by an enemy fighter aircraft at any time during the flight.

Approximately one hour and fifty minutes after take-off, white smoke and sparks were seen to be coming from the port engine due to an internal glycol (coolant) leak. The engine stopped and the captain ordered the crew to prepare to abandon the aircraft. Half an hour later the starboard engine stopped working as it had been operating beyond its specified limit, and the aircraft went into a spin before it crashed into the sea.

To read more about the bomber, including the remarkable story of local fisherman David Shedden who rowed out to rescue survivors, click HERE.

This story has been researched (and kindly brought to our attention) by John & Ian McCallum from Saltcoats. We are very excited to announce that Ian has written some blog posts for our website on each of the crew members (and David Shedden), which we will be sharing with you all over the coming week!