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Consolidated Liberator, BZ910, near Inishtrahull Island, Donegal, July 1944

The events of Thursday, 13th July 1944, were observed by the light house keeper at Inishtrahull Island, about six miles north of Malin Head, the most Northerly Point in Ireland, witnessed the crash of an aircraft in the sea to the east of the island. Information was relayed to land and among the organisations receiving the notice, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station at Malin Head sent on a four man rescue boat at 10:30 at night. upon reaching the area they found Royal Navy vessels already on station. The naval ships had already picked up survivors from the sea.

The Royal Air Force's 120 Squadron was based at Ballykelly airfield at this time and it was a Liberator patrol bomber of their unit that was the subject of the rescue attempt. Shortly after its 8 o'clock evening take off, aircraft 'F', serial number BZ910 crashed into the sea. of the nine men on board, only four would survive.

The crash was researched from the Royal Air Force archives in particular by the nephew of the pilot, Harold Cruttenden. This formed part of the study into the family surname on the Guild of One name studies, CRUTTENDEN CONNECTIONS. Ian Cruttenden was kind enough to share what he had obtained from the UK and Canadian archives and to this was added additional details of the crew members from further research.

Where available, a photo of each crew member is presented below and further details of them are provided in the text. The names of P/O's Cruttenden and Towsley and F/Sgt's Peaty and Pye are memorialised on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.

W/O Harold Sidney Cruttenden 1336640 (Pilot)
Missing in Action as a result of the crash of BZ910. Click on Harold's name to visit his nephews web-page about him.

F/Sgt Cyril Arthur Peatey 1585409 (Co-Pilot). Missing in Action as a result of the crash of BZ910.

                  Joseph BATES
F/Lt Henry Joseph Bates 122065 (Navigator [Captain])

F/Sgt Theophilus Pye 1324862 (Navigator). Missing in Action as a result of the crash of BZ910.

Sgt Clifford Washington Stevenson 1810168 (Flight Engineer). Classed as officially wounded in Action as a result of the crash of BZ910. While all the survivors were reported wounded, Stevenson is mentioned as being severely wounded in the Squadron Operations Record Book and was the only survivor listed as Wounded in the official RAF Casualty telegrams to the press.

F/Sgt John Arthur Blair 1105608 (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner (WO/AG)). Killed in Action as a result of the crash of BZ910.

F/Sgt James Kenneth Logan RNZAF NZ417218 (WO/AG)

P/O Charles Edward Towsley J/93960 RCAF (WO/AG). Missing in Action as a result of the crash of BZ910.

F/Sgt George Leslie Hendy 1575570 (Wireless Operator Mechanic/Air Gunner)

The story of W/O Harold Sidney Cruttenden 1336640 (Pilot) can be read by clicking on his name and reading the website created by his nephew in his memory.

F/Sgt Cyril Arthur PEATEY 1585409. Aged just 21, Cyril was the son of Arthur John and Clara Daisy Peatey, of Totteridge, Buckinghamshire. His 1946 probate record gives an address of 6 Chairborough Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire His brother Dennis in 2011 was able to provide the photos presented on this page. Dennis Peatey passed away in 2012.

F/Lt Henry Joseph BATES 122065. A navigator by trade and the highest ranking member of the crew, he was the Captain of the flight. H J Bates survived the crash and was posted to 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit. He had been flying with 120 Squadron since at least August 1943. The records of 201 Squadron show him being posted to 120 Squadron in April 1943. He was posted to 201 Squadron in December 1942 from RAF Station Pembroke Dock.
Review of the wartime Air Force Lists from 1942-1945 shows that there was only ever one airman and officer with that name and further, the UK National Archives Index to RAF Airmen (AIR78) lists only one airman enlisted with this name. By chance, has record of a Henry Joseph Bates aged 26 as arriving in New York in 1947 as a representative of UNRRA, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In the notes to his immigration forms it states that he had previously visited the United States during 1941 while training with the RAF in Canada. H J Bates 122065 was commissioned as an officer in the Spring of 1942.  A query with the DHH in Canada finally revealed that Henry Bates had in fact been assigned to RAF Ferry Command for a a short period, probably after completion of training in the BCATP.  He arrived in Montreal in March of 1942 and was assigned to fly Lockheed Hudson Mk III FH343 from Montreal to the UK between 21 April 1942 and 25 Apr 1942. 
Henry was born in 1922 in London to Agnes and XXX Bates.  On the 1939 register he is to be found living with his widowed mother in London but in 1943 in Scarborough he married, and this being his address in 1947 when passing through New York provided the clues needed to contact his family who very kindly provided the photo shown above.

Henry Bates died in Worcester in 1998.

F/Sgt Theophilus PYE 1324862 was 22 years of age at the time of the crash. He was born in the summer of 1922 near Epsom, Kent. He was the son of Theophilus and Bertha Pye. His mother's first husband Frederick J Pearse had been killed at Gallipoli in 1915. Theophilus Pye thus had three older half brothers, one of whom, Frederick may have served in the RAF in the 1920's. His own father had served on the Western Front and had suffered a gun shot wound in 1916. Theophilus underwent part of his navigator training in Canada and he left many photos taken of the places there that he visited and shots taken from the Anson aircraft that he flew in. By late 1943, he was posted to Nassau in the Bahamas, presumably to join 111 Operational Training Unit there, the RAF unit which produced trained crews for the Liberator patrol aircraft.

This photo of Theophilus with a colleague in front of an Anson suggests he completed his training at No.1 Air Observer School Anson AX347 at Malton, Ontario. This particular aircraft was lost in November 1943 when it crashed with that unit.

A change of scenery from Snowy Canada, this photo was taken during his time in Nassau.

A class photo with Theophilus in the middle row, second from right. It can only be assumed that this was taken at 1 Air Observer School and is dated June 10th, 1943.

Sgt Clifford Washington STEVENSON 1810168 was born in Surrey in 1919. His parents Emma and George Washington Stevenson were resident in Brazil when they married and they lived in Argentina during the 1930's. Clifford and his brothers can be found on shipping manifests between Argentina and England. Little else is known about Clifford beyond his being in this crash. As mentioned above, the injuries he received must have been particularly severe as his name was published in official casualty lists. It is not known if he returned to Argentina after the war. When his father passed away in 1939, Clifford is described as a bank official in the UK National Probate Calender published in 1949. He appears to have married around this time and lived with his wife Edith in London until his death in 2007.

F/Sgt John Arthur BLAIR 1105608 was the son of Annie and John Blair of West Derby. His father passed away the same year John was born. His mother remarried but sadly again in 1927 she was widowed. She remarried in 1943 and it was John's stepfather Stanley Boisson that is named as his next of kin along with his mother by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. John was one of those posted as missing after the crash but his body was washed up on the west coast of Scotland and he is buried in the isolated cemetery at Roshven. His brothers and sisters fondly remember him.

F/Sgt James Kenneth LOGAN NZ417218 was a member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He was born in February 1917 in Riwaka. He was sent to Canada for training in 1942. He was injured in the crash and along with other crew members sent to the one of the American Army hospitals established in Northern Ireland. After the war he returned to his native New Zealand but sadly passed away aged

P/O Charles Edward TOWSLEY J/93960 came from Winnipeg and was son of Elizabeth and Miron Towsley. Born in 1914,

F/Sgt George Leslie HENDY 1575570. George Hendy at 92 years of age in 2014 is thought to be the last survivor of BZ910. He had often told his family of his wartime exploits including the crash in the sea during which he broke a leg.

Compiled by Dennis Burke, 2013, Dublin and Sligo. If you have information on any of the people listed above, please do contact me at