In Remembrance of the 23 British and Commonwealth Airmen who died on 6th February 1945 when RAF Dakota KG630 crashed in thick mist on the South Downs half a mile west of Folkington, East Sussex, en-route to liberated France.

In February 1945, several Dakota transport aircraft from RAF Broadwell, Oxfordshire were involved for several days in moving men and equipment of 140 Wing RAF from Thorney Island, Hampshire to a new forward base in France. On the morning of 6th February it was cloudy and overcast, a bad morning for flying, but the relocation from Thorney Island, Hampshire to Rosieres-en-Santerre Airfield in France, was already behind schedule due to bad weather. At about 9.30am two Dakotas took off from Thorney Island loaded with RAF, RNZAF, RAAF and RCAF personnel and equipment. However only one Dakota arrived at base B87, Rosieres-en-Santerre. At 10.05am the other aircraft, Dakota KG630 crashed on the South Downs, about 5 miles north of Beachy Head.


Transcript of the Official Crash Report

575 Squadron Operation Transport. Aircraft: Dakota III KG630

1st Pilot: Oleinikoff P.M. (Aus) Warrant Officer

2nd Pilot: Barsby E.A. (Aus) Flight Sergeant

County: Sussex. Place: Hunters Burgh, Folkington

Flight duration: 30mins. Accident approximately 10.05a.m.

Transport of passengers from Thorney Island to B87 in low flight in cloud aircraft struck side of hill 500 feet above sea level. Starboard wing broke off and aircraft crashed into wood at bottom of it. [???] After [??] all occupants killed, actual weather at place of accident worse than forecast.

Pilot struck high ground when either:

a) Descending through cloud to fly contact or

b) Flying too low in cloud without knowing where he is and not paying attention to the higher ground below.

Pilot failed to brief himself sufficiently of the high ground en-route.

Weather forecast cloud base 1500ft. - 2000ft. with patches at 600ft. locally, but hill 500ft. ASL was in cloud. Pilot not briefed re. high ground by Station Navigation Officer.

Aircraft struck hill 500ft Above Sea Level whilst flying in cloud. Aircraft burnt out upon crashing.

As above recommend that Station Navigation Officer briefs crews re. High ground and gives minimum safety height.

AOC concurs with findings and does not consider accident could have been avoided by action not already taken by DPA.

AOC [ ? ] Staff instruction [????] laying down duties of briefing officers re. Minimum safety heights.

Considered formation leader should have [??] his crews were adequately briefed.

[???] = unknown

The Situation on the ground



This plane is from 575 Squadron, RAF. Broadwell Oxon. and was flying south.* The Downs were hidden by a thick mist and the machine struck the top of a hill and dived into a wood and caught fire. A Mr. Ronald CROUCH, of Sayerlands, Polegate, was working 300 yards away but did not see the crash owing to the mist but ran towards the sound. He found the blazing plane but could not see or hear anything of the crew. He then rang for assistance and met Mr. PRODGER and Mr. HEATH who had come from Folkington Manor where they are employed.

Mr. HEATH returned to telephone the police whilst the others made a reconnaissance of the wreck and surrounding land in order to locate the occupants. At 10.45 hrs. Mr. Reginald BECK of Polegate FAP and myself arrived with an ambulance and with my axe I managed to cut a way through the trees and branches which had been brought down by the plane.

The machine was still burning and small arms ammunition was occasionally exploding. At about 10.55 hrs. Sgt. HOPKINS and PC. BOON arrived and was followed in about 15 minutes by Eastbourne NFS. A body was located under the wreckage and with the help of Section Leader PHILLIPSON in charge of the NFS, the debris was moved and trees pulled away and further bodies recovered.

Rescue work was hampered by lack of water as the wreck burnt continually and it was 18.00 hrs. when the last body was removed. During the later stages the police were assisted by police from Hailsham and the NFS. was relieved by a crew from Eastbourne.

Difficult rescue work was made successful by the excellent co-operation of the above named.

RAF Guard was supplied from Friston.

Bodies were moved by tractors and trailers provided by Mr CARR, Home Farm, Folkington and Lt.Col GWYNNE, Folkington Manor as far as the Rectory and then by FAP. Ambulance and RAF. transport.

Time and date information received by Police: 10.30 hrs. 6th February, 1945.

Signature: Edward Page PC.94.


Whilst KG630 originated from RAF Broadwell, its task was to move personnel and equipment from Thorney Island to France. It seems possible that the aircraft had flown a route eastwards in poor visibility along the south coast to a point a few miles north of Beachy Head, the location of an RAF radio station, a useful way-marker in poor visibility, and a common departure point for aircraft leaving the south coast of the UK for the continent during WW2. The accident then happened as the aircraft turned south or southeast and descended, presumably in an attempt to get below the forecast cloud-base, before passing over Beachy Head on course for Rosieres-en-Santerre.


Probable intended route of KG630.


The 140 Tactical Bombing Wing of the RAF comprised 21 Squadron RAF, 464 Squadron RAAF and 487 Squadron RNZAF, so there were casualties from both UK and commonwealth countries.

The Dakota Crew (575 Squadron RAF Broadwell) Age
First Pilot Warrant Officer Peter Matthew OLEINIKOFF RAAF 34
Second Pilot Flight Sergeant Edgar Alan BARSBY RAAF 20
Navigator Flying Officer Kenneth Gilbert FORSETH RCAF 22
Wireless Operator Flight Sergeant Ronald Arthur BROCK RCAF 21
Oleinikoff-PM.jpg Barsby-EA.jpg Forseth-KG.jpg Brock-RA.jpg


140 Wing Aircrew and Technicians (RAF Thorney Island) Age
Flying Officer Edward William CURTIS RAFVR 40
Pilot Officer Colin Alexander RATTRAY RAF ** 22
Corporal Colin GIBSON RAFVR 21
Corporal Gerald Ernest Nelson David LEE RAFVR 33
Corporal William George BLAIR RNZAF 23
Corporal Edwin Bruce CHADD RAFVR 38
Corporal David COOPER RAF 24
LAC Ronald Grayham BALDRY RAFVR 21
LAC Samuel Arthur BAMBER RAFVR 30
LAC William Daniel DAVIES RAFVR 44
LAC Thomas Henry FLOODY RAFVR 23
LAC Sydney MacKenzie SMITH RCAF ?
LAC Albert Edward Dowler WILKES RAFVR 35
Curtis-EW.jpg Gibson-C.jpg Lee-GEND.jpg Blair-WG.jpg Chadd-EB.jpg Cooper-D.jpg
Bainbridge-F.jpg Baldry-RG.jpg Bamber-SA.jpg Davies-WD.jpg Floody-TH.jpg Neale-J.jpg
Nerden-W.jpg Smith-R.jpg Smith-S-M.jpg Stevens-G.jpg Wilkes-AED.jpg Wilson-G.jpg

All the above are buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery London, except for Pilot Officer Colin Rattray, who is buried in Newmonthill Cemetery Forfar Angus Scotland, (**no image available), and LAC Woolf Nerden, who is buried in East Ham Jewish Cemetery London.


The crash site on the South Downs is not far from St. Peter´s Church Folkington where a simple memorial service is held each February to commemorate those who died in the KG630 Dakota accident.


In May 2011 East Sussex historian Peter Tyrrell accompanied a group of airmen's relatives to the South Downs and was able to pinpoint the crash site where some years earlier, a small memorial in the shape of an aluminium cross made from the aircraft wreckage, had been nailed to a tree.

As the group of relatives returned from the crash site, although the day had been warm and sunny, a glance back showed how quickly the weather on the South Downs could change. The clouds had suddenly lowered and not for the first time, a thick mist obscured the hills.




The Airmen's Prayer

(From Psalm 139)

If I climb up into heaven, thou art there

If I go down to hell, thou art there also

If I take the wings of the morning

And remain in the uttermost parts of the sea

Even there also shall thy hand lead me

And thy right hand shall hold me


In Memoriam