Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Frank Wortley Pinkerton (Sergeant Pilot)

Frank Wortley Pinkerton was a Hyde man, born in 1913. Before WW11 he was working at the Leathercloth Division of 
I.C.I. Newton.

During the war he was a Sergeant Pilot with 12 Squadron RAF at Wickenby. On the night of 29th/30th March 1943 he was the pilot of Lancaster Bomber W4858, coded PH-A, on an attack on Berlin. The aircraft was hit by flak over the target, and on the homeward leg both starboard engines failed while they were over Holland. Sgt Pinkerton gave the order to abandon the aircraft, and he kept the crippled bomber steady while his crew baled out, being the last one to jump when they were all clear.

Of the seven crew, two were killed,  and four were taken prisoner, leaving only Sgt Pinkerton to evade capture. He was helped by the Dutch resistance movement to get to Belgium, and from there a network of people guided him, mainly on foot, through Belgium, France, across the Pyrenees into neutral Spain, and home via Gibraltar.

On his return to Britain he took up his duties with the RAF again, and gained a Commission in October 1944. After the war he took up a career in civil aviation with British European Airways. He was married in 1945, and they had their first child, Robert, the following year.

On August 19th 1949, Captain Pinkerton was flying ex-RAF  BEA Dakota G-AHCY  From Belfast to Ringway, Manchester, with 2 other crewmembers and 29 passengers. Due to a navigational error, they descended  through cloud on their approach to Ringway and crashed into Wimberry Stones Brow, Dovestones, Saddleworth. 

The crew of 3 and 21 of the 29 passengers were killed as the aircraft disintegrated and caught fire. Workers from the nearby Greenfield paper mill were amongst the first to arrive at the scene to assist the injured. 

An undercarriage leg at the bottom of the slope and a few small scraps higher up at the crash site is the only remaining evidence of the terrible accident today. 

Looking Down from the crash site

Looking up to the crash site

At the time of the crash, Mrs Pinkerton was expecting their 2nd son, Richard. Their home was at Wallasey. In his pre war days, Frank was a keen hiker, and by coincidence the area where he crashed was one of his favourite walks.

Thank you to David Hamilton  for this excellent post.


Chris Han said...

Very interesting story, it's funny how fate seems to catch up with you in the end.

It's astonishing though that debris from the crashed plane is still there to this day.

Anonymous said...

Velly interesting, goodnight Nancy.

Sean D said...

A tragic end after all he'd been through.

Albert Rushton said...

Found the comments about the air disaster very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Frank was my Mothers first husband, perhaps I can help if you need more information ?

Anonymous said...

They had a daughter called Penelope

Anonymous said...

Penelope was from Franks wife's later marriage, Franks children were Robert and Richard

Mark Vickery said...

My father Arthur Frank Vickery was one of the survivors. He moved to Canada where he remarried, and had 3 children. He passed away at the age 84. I was always amazed that he received no compensation for the crash, but that was the way it was in those years.