23 July 2024 Military Aviation » Accidents - Military » 1930 - 1939  


A number of incidents are dated 11.10.37. This is the date when the aircraft was “struck off charge” i.e. the aircraft was removed from the inventory of the air force or navy. The actual incident itself happened earlier, but the date and description of accident so far remain unknown
20.01.30 Fairey IIIF   No. 39 Aircraft crashed in the sea.
23.01.30 Iris Flying Boat   238 Aircraft, on an experimental cruise from RAF Mount Batten in the UK to Basrah, landed to refuel. Weather delayed departure of the aircraft, but the cruise was in the meantime cancelled by the Air Ministry. Left Malta on 11.02.30.
05.03.30 Fairey IIID Mk II 202 (Flying Boat) Squadron N9777 During take-off from Calafrana harbour for HMS Centaur, the flying boat started drifting to port, the (port) float collapsed, which caused the machine to overturn and sick. Three crew slightly injured.
18.03.30 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIM No. 448 (Fleet Spotter Reconnaissance) Flight. S1320/53 Aircraft went over the port side of HMS Eagle during landing and sank, although it was later recovered.
05.06.30 Fairy IIID 202 S1078 Aircraft spun into the sea from 3000 feet, two fatalities. The RAF Kalafrana Operations Records Book (ORB) lists the aircraft spinning into the ground, not water.
__.07.30 F. Flycatcher 405 Flight   Heavy landing at Hal-Far. Engine separated from airframe. Fatalities/injuries unknown, but aircraft probably a write-off.
07.07.30 Fairy IIID 202 N9730 Pilot overshot from a water landing, crashing into a service dinghy. Boat occupant killed.
26.09.30 Farman seaplane     Two aircraft had arrived from Biserta on their way to Beirut between 20/21, returning on the 25th. Bad weather delayed their departure until the 29th.
15.10.30 B. Ripon 461 Flt, HMS Glorious S1365 Failed to recover from dive at Hal Far. Two fatalities.
__.12.30 B. Ripon IIa 461 Flt. S1360? Coded 60, but serial needs confirmation. Based on HMS Glorious. Crashed in St. Paul’s Bay.
__.__.31 B. Ripon IIA 461 Flt. S1489 ? Crashed at Hal-Far, unknown circumstances. Serial needs confirmation. gives the month as June and serial as S1469.
__.__.31 F. Flycatcher 405 flt S1283 Ditched off Malta.
01.03.31 Short Rangoon 203   Three of these flying boats arrived on 25th February on their way to Basrah. Two were moored at St. George’s Bay, whilst the third was brought ashore for a hull examination. No damage detected, and flying boat was refloated again.

Aircraft were meant to depart on this date, but the swell had caused enough strain against one hull, the aircraft was brought ashore for examination.

The damage discovered necessitated spares and an expert from Shorts Bros. being brought from the UK, repairs taking up most of the month. The flying boats had to wait for good weather before they could depart, finally doing so on 16.04.31..
__.07.31 Fairy III 202   A cruise by 6 aircraft to the Eastern Mediterranean started on 14.07.31, returning on the 27th. Places visited were August, Corfu, Athens, Mirabella (crete), Aboukir and Sollum. One aircraft had to land in the Malta Channel, and eventually return to base. Another aircraft suffered from engine trouble at Corfu and remained there until the remaining four aircraft returned on completion of the cruise, and rejoined them on the return flight to Malta.
10.10.31 B. Ripon II 462 Flt. S1362/73 Crashed in the sea off Valletta Point.
03.02.32 B. Dart   No. 08 Ditched off Malta.
17.02.32 Fairey IIIF 450 Flt, HMS Courageous S1491 Crashed in sea, off Marsa Scirocco, One fatality, one survivor.
25.02.32 Flycatcher 401 Flt, HMS Courageous N9679/502 Collision with S1273, off Malta Harbour, one fatality.
25.02.32 Flycatcher 401 Flt, HMS Courageous S1273/503 Collision with N9679, off Malta Harbour, one fatality
11.03.32 B. Ripon IIa S1429 Based on HMS Glorious. Aircraft ditched and sank in the sea whilst flying from Malta to Naples.
25.04.32 Fairey IIIF 448 Flight   Aircraft had disembarked from HMS Glorious along with ship’s other Flights. Took off from Hal-Far, but ditched in rough seas close to shore after in flight problems. Two fatalities.
25.04.32 B. Ripon 460 flt. S1265 A part of this aircraft was caught up in a fisherman’s net, and handed over to the Aviation Museum in late 2011/early 2012. See article below reproduced from Malta Flypast 7, written by Major Mark A. Said, AFM.

Accident Report

Light from the Epitaphs









Throughout my long years of research into aircraft accidents which occurred from the first day man took to flight on this Island, I criss-crossed several aerial tragedies that were either not reported by the local dailies of the day or went unrecorded later and have been forgotten. The only clue to the researcher that an air tragedy had happened lies with the epitaphs on the graves ...

At ten in the morning of Monday 25 April 1932, Blackburn Ripon S1265 (numbered 75) of 460 Flight, Fleet Air Arm, took off from Royal Naval Air Station Hal Far on a routine navigation training flight. It flew along the West coast towards the smaller island of Gozo. The two crew members aboard the two-seat naval Ripon aircraft were, twenty three year-old Flying Officer Paul Leslie Irven RN, (Flight instructor), and eighteen year-old Midshipman Archibald Hamilton RN, of HMS Resolution. The latter was temporarily embarked on the carrier Glorious for a short course of instruction in aerial navigation.

One and a half hours into the flight, the Napier Lion engine of the Ripon failed. The machine was ditched about three quarters of a mile off 'Ras il-Pellegrin', limits of Gnejna bay and capsized. The two airmen managed to un-strap themselves of their submerged cockpits and make it to the surface of the cold water. On surfacing Irvin noticed that his passenger had drifted apart from him. Without hesitation, he let go of his grip, swam in rough seas, grabbed Hamilton and towed him back towards the floating machine. They both then held as best as they could to the machine as it bobbed up and down in high waves, whilst calling out for help in desperation.

When the aircraft's engine had failed, John Portelli, a farmer, had been tending his fields at 'Ghajn Bierda', limits of Bahrija. His attention had been attracted by the sudden silence of the engine, and when he saw the aircraft descend behind the cliffs and fail to come up in a climb, he called some friends and ran towards the cliff's edge from where they would surely have a better view of the sea. Arriving there, they saw both airmen holding to a wing tip and noticed they were drifting slowly towards shore. The wreckage remained afloat about thirty yards from the shore until it sank at around 2.30 p.m.

The rescuers at the top of the cliff, threw one end of a rope but this was too short. They then dropped some pieces of wood down the cliff's face, for the airmen to hold onto, but this attempt was also in vain. Unable to reach the shore in the heavy surf, the exhausted airmen swam further out expecting rescue to come from that direction. A few minutes later, a plane approached the area, circled overhead and minutes later flew back to the south east towards Hal Far.

Whilst tragedy was unfolding, one of the farmers cycled to Bingemma Fort half a mile away to call for assistance. The soldiers on guard duties at the Fort then informed Rabat Police Station, three miles away. On duty Police Inspector Loreto Bonnici, and a number of Policemen raced to the area with rescue equipment and arrived on scene at around 3.15 p.m. Unfortunately, they could not be of any assistance, as by the time they arrived, the two men were far out at sea and their only hope laid with a boat coming to their rescue.

It took another three quarter of an hour for His Majesty's destroyer Vimiera to arrive on scene. Furthermore, it remained at the mouth of 'Fomm ir-rih' bay as the heavy swell made it difficult to navigate close inshore. A whaler lowered from the side of the ship made in the direction of the two men, the spot being indicated by a circling aircraft (No. 7171) which had arrived only a few minutes earlier. It took the whaler another fifteen minutes to reach the two unfortunate individuals. By the time they were hauled aboard they were dead through severe exhaustion. The corpses were taken to Bighi Naval Hospital. Lt. Irvin and Midshipman Hamilton were buried at the nearby Capucini Naval Cemetery with full Military Honours.





Today the epitaphs on their graves are the only witness to youthful life brought abruptly to a tragic end. The gravestones may have weathered but the epitaphs still register the emotion. Like a candle they shed a flickering light onto the story of brave airman. The above is only one of several such dear losses forgotten through the span of time.


19.05.32 B. Ripon     Aircraft forced landed in sea off Pembroke, the crew being rescued by float planes of 202 & 447 squadron/flight.
15.06.32 Flycatcher     Landed (or crashed) in the water off Ghar * Lapsi, the pilot being rescued by Maltese boat owners.

* Pronounced are.
19.10.32 Fairey IIIF 202 S1518 Overturned on take-off from Kalafrana owing to the starboard float coming off during bouncing on swell. Crew uninjured. Aircraft written off.
21.07.33 S. Southampton 202 S1381 Aircraft struck fishing boat during its take-off run.
05.12.33 Fairey IIIF Mk.III 447 Flt S1780 Hit another aircraft during take-off from Hal-Far.
03.03.34 B. Baffin Mk. I 812 K3548/71 Ditched in sea off Malta following engine failure. According to air Britain’s Aeromilitaria the aircraft was recovered from the sea. SoC 12.03.34.
15.07.34 A. Tutor     Crashed in sea. Fatalities/injuries unknown.
19.07.34 Fairey IIIF Station Flight Hal Far S1860 Hit a flare and burst into flames after heavy landing at Hal Far. One fatality, one survivor.
17.08.34 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3547 Aircraft SoC on this date, cause/s unknown.
24.01.35 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3551/74 Aircraft crashed in the sea whilst operating from HMS Glorious. SOC 09.02.35.
12.02.35 H. Nimrod I 800 S1621 Crashed in sea off Malta after collision with S1262. Pilot parachuted to safety. Both aircraft were based on HMS Courageous.
12.02.35 H. Nimrod I 800 S1626 Crashed in sea off Malta after collision with S1621.
15.02.35 S. Singapore 210 K3595 One of two aircraft from the UK to Singapore. Crashed into mountain near Messina, Sicily, when flying in clouds en route to Malta. Nine fatalities. Remains brought to Malta onboard HMS Durban on 18.02.35, to be buried at Bighi Naval cemetery.
__.03.35 B. Baffin   K3558 Crashed into field boundary rubble wall whilst landing at Hal-Far. Delivered to Fleet Air Arm 04.01.34 then used by 812 Squadron, Hal Far (Malta) 30 Jan 1934; coded “72”. Later to 810 Squadron, then to RNZAF as NZ175 06.12.37.
16.04.35 Fairey IIIF   S1508 Crashed at Kalafrana.
__.05.35 F. Flycatcher IIIF 825/Glorious S1823 Destroyed after a night flying crash. No fatalities.
27.05.35 DH Queen Bee K4545 (Remote) control of this aircraft was gradually lost and landed down wind. Although it was recovered, it was declared a write off.
29.05.35 DH Queen Bee   K4046 To Gunnery Co-operation Flt, Kalafrana 17.05.34; coded “6”, but returned to RAE Farnborough 29.08.34; Again to Malta on 28.03.35 Crashed in sea off Malta and sank. Cause of crash unknown. Total of 45.05 hours.
__.06.35 F. Flycatcher IIIF 825/Glorious S1717 Replacement for S1823 (above). Also involved in night time landing crash, but repairable.
15.07.35 F. Flycatcher IIIF 202 S1461 SOC, exact cause of accident unknown.
26.09.35 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3546 Aircraft SoC on this date. This is probably the aircraft, coded 73, which crashed over the side of HMS Glorious on the 13th.
07.10.35 S. Scapa     The flying boat was towed to Malta having been forced to land near Pantalleria. The aircraft had departed from Bizerta, and was en route to the Middle East as reinforcement for the RAF.
20/21.10.35       During the night, two Short Rangoons and one Short Scapa flying boats broke from their moorings at Marsaxlokk Bay during a southern gale, but little damage sustained.
25.11.35       Fireworks burst around an RAF aircraft airborne from Hal-Far when in the Bubaqra-Nigret-Zurrieq area. A police inspector who visited the airfield agreed to keep the station informed when fireworks were to be let off, for pilots to be warned.
02.12.35 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3553/61 Crashed in the sea, being SOC on 01.09.37
24.01.36 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3550/64 Hit the round down * of HMS Glorious, landed heavily, broke the port wheel, damaged port lower mainplane and strained the fuselage’s centre section during night time landing on the carrier. Transferred to Malta on 0n 01.09.36, being SoC on 01.09.37.

* This is the stern of the aircraft carrier where the flight deck starts.
19.02.36 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3549/63 Aircraft crashed in forecastle of HMS Glorious. repaired and returned to service. Aircraft would be involved in another accident, see date 16.06.36.
27.02.36 F. Flycatcher III 823 S1549 Struck of Charge on this day.
31.05.36 F. Flycatcher IIIF 825/Glorious   Involved in night time landing crash, injuries unknown.
05.06.36 V. Vildebeest III 22 K4608 Engine cut after take-off, stalled and crashed, Hal Far. Two fatalities.
16.06.36 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3549/63 Aircraft landed high and fast on HMS Glorious, touching down ahead of the wires and crashing onto the lower flying deck. SOC 01.09.37.
15.07.36 A. Tutor Mk. I Station Flight Hal Far K3402 Dived into sea, off Marfa Point, Malta. Two fatalities.
29.08.36 H. Nimrod Mk I 802 K2839 Ditched after engine cut-out.
07.09.36 Osprey III 802 Sqn, HMS Glorious K3917 Dived into ground after take-off from Hal Far. One fatality
15.09.36 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIB 444 Flt S1509 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
18.09.36 B. Ripon 812 S1660 Engine failure during take-off from Hal-Far.
02.11.36 H. Nimrod II 802 K3655 Undercarriage collapsed on landing at Hal-Far. Aircraft repaired.
12.11.36 Hawker Nimrod Mk I 802 K2828 Ditched in sea off Maltese coast due to engine cutting out.
23/24.11.36 B. Baffin 812 K2884 Written-off after cyclone hit Malta. Hangar housing Baffins uplifted and destroyed. All of 812’s aircraft were written-off, including K2885, K2886, K2887, K3559, K3590, K4776, K4778.

This aircraft, and K2885, were originally built as a Blackburn Ripon Mk IIC and converted to a Baffin before delivery to the RAF.
23/24.11.36 B. Baffin 812 S1468/61 Written-off after cyclone hit Malta. Hangar housing Baffins uplifted and destroyed. Additional aircraft included S1559/74, S1569/63, S1574/64, S1652/65, S1665/72.

These aircraft were originally built as a Ripons but converted to Baffins.
25.11.36 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIB 202 S1524 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
19.01.37 Saunders Roe A.27 London I 201 K5260 4 of these flying boats arrived on the 17th on a cruise from the UK. This aircraft experienced starting problems and subsequently remained behind, the other three departing for Algeria. There were no problems starting up on the 20th, the aircraft departing to join the other aircraft at Algeria. (Further details under the Royal Air Force Luqa/Major Exercises page.

29.01.37 F. Swordfish   K5948 Crashed into island on HMS Glorious, written off.
03.02.37 DH82B Queen Bee   K5104 Crashed off Malta.
11.02.37 DH82B Queen Bee   K5108 Crashed off Malta.
11.02.37 DH82B Queen Bee   K5110 Crashed off Malta.
18.02.37 DH82B Queen Bee   K5106 Crashed off Malta.
18.02.37 DH82B Queen Bee   K5111 Crashed off Malta.
02.04.37 Fairey Mk IIIB 443 Flt/Gosport/Hal Far S1552 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
05.04.37 H. Nimrod I 408 Flt/802 S1579 Crashed on landing at Hal-Far.
21.04.37 F. Swordfish 3 AACU * K8382 Crashed into Kalafrana bay quay after release of torpedo. * No. 3 Anti-Aircraft Cooperation Unit.
05.06.37 Fairey Mk IIIB   S1551 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
10.08.37 F. Swordfish 3 AACU K8384 Crashed into St Paul’s Bay. No fatalities, slight injuries only.
01.09.37 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3552 Coded ‘75’ and ‘62’. SOC on this date, cause/s unknown.
01.09.37 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3554/60 SOC on this date, cause/s unknown.
01.09.37 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3556/60 SOC on this date, cause/s unknown.
01.09.37 B. Ripon IIa 812 K3557/71 SOC on this date, cause/s unknown.
18.09.37 F. Swordfish 812 K8365 Crashed onto the village of Zurrieq from 3,000ft. The two-crew members escaped by parachute, no injuries.
07.10.37 Scapa 202 K4200 Crashed during take-off from Marsaxlokk Bay.
11.10.37 DH.60M Hal Far Station Flight K1198 c/n 1510. toc at Sealand 29.4.30 [16.4.30?], for packing and despatch to Malta; arrived Hal Far 03.07.30. Soc Hal-Far as “deteriorated beyond repair”. Note: This was the first of a batch of 30 Moths (K1198-K1227) ordered under AM Contract No. 5785/30.
11.10.37 DH.60M Hal Far Station Flight K1199 c/n 1511. toc at Sealand 30.4.30 [16.4.30?], for packing and despatch to Malta; arrived Hal Far 3.7.30. Operated by Hal Far Station Flight; coded "4". Soc, Hal-Far, as “deteriorated beyond repair”. Total hours 745.
11.10.37 Fairey Mk IIIB 443 Flt/Gosport S1485 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
11.10.37 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIM 202 S1385 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
11.10.37 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIM 202 S1386 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
11.10.37 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIM 202 S1383 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
11.10.37 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIB 202/SF/Hal Far S1517 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
11.10.37 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIB 822 S1862 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
30.11.37 Walrus I 711 Flt, HMS London K8345 Hit power cable and dived into sea, Kalafrana. Two fatalities.
__.__.38 F. Seal   K-3527 Crashed at Hal-Far. No further details.
22.01.38 H. Nimrod I 802 Sqn, HMS Glorious S1580 Spun into sea attempting to land on HMS Glorious, near Malta. One fatality.
27.01.38 DH82B Queen Bee   K8643 Crashed off Malta.
10.02.38 H. Nimrod I 800/802 S1581 Crashed on landing at Hal-Far.
__.__.38 Saunders Roe A.27 London I     Unusually low water levels at Marsaxlokk harbour between 21.02.38 to 14.03.38 resulted in a “London” flying boat of 202 squadron being “aground” at one of the inner moorings. This phenomena occurred again in October.
21.05.38 Fairey IIIF Mk IIIB   S1534 Soc, Hal-Far. Exact cause of accident unknown.
10.08.38 F. Swordfish 3 AACU K8284 Pilot lost control when in the vicinity of St. Paul’s Bay. No fatalities.
16.08.38 S. Walrus Mk. I 711 L2177 Based on HMS Sussex. Aircraft departed Hal-Far but sank on landing at Kalafrana bay because the camera hatch had not been secured before landing, causing the aircraft’s hull to fill with water.

Aircraft eventually lost when based on board HMAS Sydney, after the ship sank following a battle with the Kormoran, going down with all hands.

Aviation Safety Network has the following, somewhat contradictory information about this aircraft, and a photograph showing the aircraft nose down vertically in shallow water.

L2177 had its first flight in July 1937, and was crated for shipment to join 711 Catapult flight attached to HMS Suffolk at Malta in November of that year. It was being flown by Lieutenant H.F. Stokes, RN when the accident occurred. The three crewmen escaped safely. Following its salvage operation the Walrus was sent to 102 MU at RAF Abu Sueir in Egypt for repair, and later transferred to the RAAF, serving aboard the Leander class light cruiser HMAS Sydney in September 1940.

NB Cannot have been SoC. This was the airframe on board HMAS Sydney when sunk with all hands in November 1941

Source on loss of Sydney airframe supplied by RAAF/RAF/FAA and numerous other sources.

Also, I had a relation who was the pilot of L2177 on board HMAS Sydney in 1941 and was killed along with his TAG Bill Fibbens RAN and the Observer Jack Bacon RN. Ray Barrey RAAF A/407000 (Relation) was pilot, other members of RAAF Detail were ground staff.
31.10.38 DH82B Queen Bee   K8635 Shot down off Malta.
22.12.38 F. Swordfish 3 AACU K8369 Aircraft was on SAR for a reported missing aircraft. Pilot forced to land at Ta Qali with a seized engine-driven generator. Fault was deemed too extensive to repair, and aircraft was taken by road to Hal Far the following day.
13.02.39 DH Queen Bee N1385 Crashed after being launched from HMS Penelope.
25.02.39       A heavy storm, which lasted until the 28th, struck Marsaxlokk Bay, with heavy seas and swell, which made the slipways unapproachable for the four days.
22.03.39 H. Nimrod I 801/802 S1587 Crashed on landing at Hal-Far.
__.04.39       Unusual large and sudden outflow of water at Kalafrana again left flying boats stranded.
20.04.39 F. Swordfish 825 K8432 Got stuck in soil during landing at Hal-Far. No further information on aircraft damage or crew safety available.
29.04.39       A pilotless Queen Bee used for an artillery anti-aircraft shoot, crashed on landing at Hal Far.
19.05.39 Gl. Sea Gladiator   N5534 Stalled whilst climbing from a low altitude. Pilot crashed in the sea near Filfla Island.
05.06.39 DH82B Queen Bee   N1830 Shot down by AA off Malta.
16.06.39 DH82B Queen Bee   N1822 Crashed off Malta.
19.08.39 B. Blenheim     Aircraft crashed in the sea south of Malta on, crew picked up by merchantman.
22.08.39 DH82B Queen Bee 3 AACU L7764 Aircraft made a pilotless take-off, but went out of range of the controller, and crashed into the sea.
24.08.39 S. Sunderland     Aircraft departed for the UK, but forced to return due to bad weather en route.
03.09.39 H. Nimrod 802/Glorious K3639/560 Ditched in sea, cause unknown. Pilot believed to have survived.
03.09.39 H. Nimrod 802/Glorious K2824 Ditched in sea, cause unknown. From the captions to photographs accompanying an article (A crab recalls . . . by Cecil Bristow, Malta Flypast – 6), the aircraft were ditched by the same pilot, FO K. A. Stewart. The serial numbers can be read from photographs, clearly showing two different a/c. Did the same pilot have two identical incidents on the same day?
18.09.39 Blackburn TSB Ripon   S1660/74 Engine failure caused pilot to land in a field.
24.10.39 DH82B Queen Bee   L7723 Floats collapsed landing off Malta.
25.10.39 Swordfish 3 AACU K8354 The aircraft, a floatplane version, landed safely in 45-50mph winds. After mooring, aircraft was blown across harbour suffering substantial damages.
13.11.39 B. Bombay   L5822 Departed on the 22nd, following repairs to tail wheel.
13.11.39 B. Bombay   L5824 Departed on the 22nd, following repairs to tail wheel.
13.11.39 B. Bombay     Departed on the 22nd, following repairs to tail wheel. Serial not listed in Customs records.
__.12.39 Saunders-Roe A.27 London 202   Force-landed on the water due to engine problems, being repaired at Kalafrana. Departure date unknown.
11.12.39 Saunders-Roe A.27 London   K6931 Departed for Gibraltar but had to return due to generator trouble. Left again on the 12th. This aircraft had arrived from Gibraltar on the 2nd.
23.12.39 DH 82B Queen Bee   P4693 Damaged by AA and crashed on approach Malta.
26.12.39 DH82B Queen Bee   P4692 Ditched off Malta.
29.12.39 DH82B Queen Bee   P4689 Ditched off Malta.
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