We were contacted by reader of the Bepton Down blog who asked about a helicopter crash when he was a schoolboy. “Does anyone remember the helicopter that crashed on Bepton Down in the mid 1960s? I was a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School at the time and went to see the crashed remains up there on the hillside a couple of days after it happened.”
Richard Stephenson would like to know if anyone can remember any more details about this tragic accident? Please get in touch if you have any memories or information about the crash so we can pass them on to Richard and share with others. At the front of my mind are the two crew lost their lives that day – it would be good to remember these men as part of the history of Bepton Down.
What we know…
We can find very little about the accident but we do know that the helicopter involved was a Westland Whirlwind HAR Mark 10, similar to the one in the photograph above. There’s a website called UK Serials which records the serial numbers of all UK military aircraft, including any losses and some details about how a loss occurred.
The crash happened on 3rd June 1964 and records show that Whirlwind HAR10 XP348 from 22 Squadron “flew into the ground near Midhurst, Sussex suffering blade stall. This occurs when the ‘retreating’ blade stalls because the aircraft is travelling too fast causing insufficient airflow over the blade. The remedy is to slow down but in this case the pilot went into a dive to increase speed. Both crew were killed.”
Richard explained that at the time he was a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School, and that when he heard about the crash he walked to Bepton with another boy to see what had happened.
“The crashed machine was somewhere way up on the Down. When we found it it was being guarded by three RAF personnel who were camped nearby but they did not stop us from inspecting the wreck or take much notice of us at all. The helicopter was bright yellow – I assumed at the time that this meant it was an Air-sea Rescue helicopter but that may or may not be correct. If I remember rightly it was more or less upright but very badly smashed up from the crash.”
Please leave a comment if you have any more information. Thank you.