From the moment I retrieved a boot from its mossy grave, it’s been a journey of intrigue, emotion and education. Whether being about the manufacturer, or the person who wore it, each side step took me on a road of discovery. After seventy six years laid hidden on a mountain, the boot has now unearthed a tale of a British boot-making empire in Rushden, and a young enthusiastic pilot from Canada.
The following chapters are:
1. Frederick Orchard Cadham
2. British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
3. Frederick Cadham’s military timeline
4. Anson DJ.410 crash on Great Gable
5. First visit to the crash site 09/08/18
6. Second visit to the crash site 11/08/18
7. The John White story and Spitfire ‘Impregnable’
8. Geoff Bland of Silloth
9. Third visit to the crash site 31/08/18
10. Remembering Frederick Orchard Cadham
11. Contact from Canada (new chapter added 29/12/2021)
Frederick Orchard Cadham
The son of Joseph Gibbons Cadham and Emily Catherine McNeill, Frederick Orchard Cadham was born on 1st April 1917 in the west coast seaport of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Both of his parents were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and after their marriage in 1913, and the birth of Frederick’s older siblings: James Anneas (1913) and Joseph Gibbons Jr (1914), the family moved to Vancouver. At some point after the birth of Frederick in 1917, the family then moved to Quartier Laurier in Montréal, Quebec.
1921 Census of Canada
283 Boulevard St Joseph, Quartier Laurier, Montréal, Quebec
Joseph Cadham, head, aged 33
Emily Cadham, wife, aged 33
James Cadham, son, aged 8
Joseph Cadham Jr, son, aged 6
Frederick Cadham, son, aged 4
After finishing his education in 1936 (aged 19) at Lower Canada College in Montréal, and two months as a magazine salesman, Frederick began working as a clerk for the chemicals manufacturer, Canadian Industries Limited (C.I.L.). It was formed in 1910 by the merger of five Canadian explosives companies, and products included paints, fertilizers and pesticides, as well as explosives. Frederick left the company in 1937 to take further private tuition with Prof. Rollands at Sir George Williams College, but returned to his former employer in 1939, and worked as an assistant to a local sales manager of their Explosives Sales Division in the mining area of Bourlamaque, Quebec. Frederick’s father, Joseph Gibbons Cadham, also worked at C.I.L. as a divisional manager, but had to retire due to heart problems.
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
On 17th December 1939, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand officially signed the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). The BCATP Agreement, often referred to as “The Plan”, was a monumental allied aircrew training program established early in the Second World War. Canada was selected as the primary location largely due to its vast open spaces and good flying weather, making it ideal for pilot and navigation training. In addition, it was a large distance away from the actual theatres of war in Europe and the Pacific.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) contracted the Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) to civilian flying clubs and contracted the Air Observer Schools (AOS) to commercial bush pilot and charter flight operators. Thousands of ground crew were trained, including aero engine mechanics, air frame mechanics, instrument technicians, administration staff, and many others. Without the contribution of these men and women, “The Plan” would never have succeeded.
The first schools were opened on 29th April 1940, with the first 39 pilots graduating from No.1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Camp Borden, Ontario on 30th September 1940. In its 5 year life (1940 – 1945) the BCATP produced 131,553 aircrew, including pilots, navigators, wireless operators, and air gunners.
Chart of RCAF Air Crew Training
Frederick Cadham’s route to becoming part of the aircrew:
Initial Training School
Elementary Flying Training School
Service Flying Training School
The following chapter is a very detailed timeline that gives an insight into the training programme of Frederick Cadham.
Frederick Cadham’s military timeline
2nd August 1940 – Enlisted into 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE)
The Non-Permanent Active Militia (NPAM), which included several dozen infantry battalions and cavalry regiments, was the name of Canada’s part-time volunteer military force from the time of Confederation to 1940. However, following the outbreak of WW2 it was redesignated as the Canadian Army Reserve Force. At the time of volunteering, Frederick Cadham was living at 31 Sixth Street, Bourlamaque, Quebec, which was only 67 miles from the 3rd Pioneer Battalion based at Noranda, Quebec.
13th November 1940 – Discharged from 3rd Pioneer Battalion to join RCAF
Frederick leaves his voluntary service and begins his application to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. At some point after his discharge he left Bourlamaque to live with his parents, who were now living at 15 Granville Road, Hampstead, Montréal, Quebec.
4th December 1940 – Reference from Lower Canada College
“To the Royal Canadian Air Force
I am pleased to write on behalf of Mr. F. O. Cadham, who was a pupil at Lower Canada College from 1933 to 1936. Mr Cadham covered all the work necessary for the Junior Matriculation of McGill University; later at Sir George Williams College, and under private tuition, he continued his studies, and his standing may be regarded as the equivalent of University entrance. I am glad to recommend Mr Cadham in his application to the Royal Canadian Air Force.”
V. C. Wansbrough
5th December 1940 – Reference from Canadian Industries Limited
This is to certify that the bearer, Mr. F. O. Cadham, has been in our employ for two and three quarter years. Mr. Cadham worked for us about four years ago in Montreal Office and left to continue his school duties. After completion, he once again joined our staff and has been acting as assistant to our Local Sales Manager at Bourlamaque, Que., for the past year and nine months. Mr. Cadham’s work has been very satisfactory and we have every reason to recommend him.”
Yours very truly
J. W. Holmes
5th December 1940 – Medical Examination in Montréal, Quebec
This was the first of many medical examinations that Frederick would have to endure throughout his training.
6th December 1940 – Attends RCAF Recruiting Centre, Montréal, Quebec
Interviewing officer’s opinion as to character and suitability for the service:
“Very suitable, clean cut. Well educated boy. Should make good officer after proper training. Best fitted for Pilot or Observer.”
Flt Lt A. B. Matthews
17th December 1940 – Attestation into the RCAF
Eleven days after his initial interview at the Recruiting Centre, Frederick receives his orders by mail and arrives for his attestation, and to be formally enlisted into the Royal Canadian Air Force.
From his attestation papers it’s clear that Frederick was a keen sportsman and must have been very athletic. It was recommended by Flt Lt A. B. Matthews that Frederick would be “best fitted for Pilot or Observer”, however, Frederick’s ‘preference’ on his attestation papers was to be a pilot.
Frederick signs his attestation papers and is given the service number: R77498 and rank: Leading Aircraftman (LAC).
18th December 1940 – Movement Order
On the same day as his attestation, Frederick was given his Movement Order to RCAF No 1 Manning Depot, and at 00:30 hours the same night, he caught the train for Toronto.
Trainees began their air force careers at a Manning Depot, and the training period would last up to four weeks. Potential pilots and air observers would carry out preliminary drill and introductory training. After this time the Trainee would be selected for either aircrew or ground crew stream. Recruits would either be sent to the ‘manning depot’ they applied for, or one of the many around Canada; the two primary ones at the beginning of WW2 were Toronto and Brandon, Manitoba, with more added as the war progressed. They were only allowed one suitcase when they left home, so it was common place to pack your best suit, best coat, and best shoes. Life at a manning depot was strenuous, rigorous, and gave recruits their first introduction to military discipline and organization. The new recruits were taught marching, saluting, personal grooming, hygiene and basically learning the ways of military life.
RCAF No.1 Manning Depot, Toronto, Ontario
The No.1 Manning Depot in Toronto was housed in the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds, in the various stables and cattle barns. In 1939, the Royal Canadian Air Force moved into the Coliseum, the Canadian Army took over the Horse Palace, and the Royal Canadian Navy converted the Automotive Building. During the military occupation of the grounds, virtually every CNE building, large or small, was put to use by the Canadian armed forces.
New recruits were all handed a wheel barrow, pitch fork, shovel, and a broom, and told to clean out the stables and the stalls in the barns. It took seven days to prepare the grounds to “welcome” any horses and the cattle for the exhibitions, but only one day to prepare the grounds for any new recruits arriving. Most of the accommodation was in the equine building where four recruits shared each stall. The horses had a better deal of course, they each had a stall to themselves. Many of the recruits were from rural towns and farms, so to them it was familiar if not fully comfortable, however, to the city born recruits, even without there being many horses in the building, they found the accommodations more colourful and aromatic.
15th January 1941 – Transferred to RCAF No.1A Manning Depot, Picton, Ontario
This base served the Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army. Today the site functions as the Picton Airport.
7th February 1941 – Transferred to No.3 Training Command St Hubert, Montreal
Canadian Forces Base St Hubert was an airbase established in World War II at the Montréal/Saint-Hubert Airport, in the town of Saint-Hubert, Quebec.
22nd April 1941 – Transferred to I.T.S. Victoriaville and starts Initial Training
R77498 LAC Cadham F. O. starts his 28 week training programme at the Initial Training School (I.T.S.), Sacred Heart College, Victoriaville, Quebec. Theoretical studies included navigation, theory of flight, meteorology, duties of an officer, air force administration, algebra, and trigonometry.
9th May 1941 – Medical Examination
Tests included an interview with a psychiatrist, a 4 hour long M2 physical examination, a session in a decompression chamber, and a “test flight” in a Link Trainer as well as academics.
Observations and findings by president of medical board:
“Wants to be a pilot. Has no financial or other worries. Is the youngest of family, but says parents not concerned about him being in air crew. Was definitely apprehensive re 40 min. test. An alert, conscientious lad.”
27th May 1941 – Finishes Initial Training
Frederick finishes his Initial Training and is passed to an Elementary Flying Training School (E.F.T.S.)
28th May 1941 – Transferred to No.13 E.F.T.S. St Eugene and starts Elementary Training
Elementary schools were operated by civilian flying clubs under contract to the RCAF, and most of the instructors were civilians. As well as some Ground Training, an Elementary Flying Training School gave a trainee 50 hours of basic flying instruction over 8 weeks, on a simple trainer like the De Havilland Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch, or Fairchild Cornell; in Frederick’s case it was a Fleet Finch II.
Fleet Finch II (photo by Ron Cembrowski)
1st June 1941 – General Conduct Sheet: A.W.O.L.
“While on Active Service, absenting himself without leave from 02:00 hours 1-6-41 until 10:10 hours 1-6-41. Absent 8 hours 10 minutes. Punishment: 9 days confined to barracks (C.B.)”
16th June 1941 – General Conduct Sheet: A.W.O.L.
“While on Active Service failed to appear at place of parade in that he was absent from work parade at 06:45 hours 16-6-41. Punishment: 6 days C.B.”
20th June 1941 – General Conduct Sheet: A.W.O.L.
“While on Active Service absented himself without leave from 04:30 hours 20-6-41 to 06:00 hours 21-6-41. Absent 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes. Punishment: 6 days C.B. and 2 days Drill.”
3rd July 1941 – Flying Accident Report
Time: 13:45 hours. Location: 12 miles W. Hawkesbury, Ontario. RCAF Aicraft: Fleet Finch II No.4734
“Student was practicing forced landings with instructor, and when the aircraft came down to 200ft he put on throttle but motor did not start. Instructor took over and tried to make cross wind landing in next field but did not have enough altitude. Tried to bounce over fence but damaged both lower planes striking fence and finally made landing on other side.”
7th July 1941 – Medical Examination
13th July 1941 – General Conduct Sheet: A.W.O.L.
“While on Active Service absented himself without leave from 23:00 hours 12-7-41 to 13:45 hours 13-7-41. Absent 14 hours 45 mins. Punishment: 8 days C.B.”
14th July 1941 – Finishes Elementary Training
Frederick finishes his Elementary Training and is passed to a Service Flying Training School (S.F.T.S.)
15th July 1941 – Transferred to No.9 S.F.T.S. Summerside P.E.I. and starts Service Flying Training
Canadian Forces Base Summerside (CFB Summerside) was an air force base located in St. Eleanors, Prince Edward Island. The airfield was constructed by the Royal Canadian Air Force between 1940 and 1941, and was home to No.9 Service Flying Training School that operated under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Airmen were trained on Harvards, and would receive training over a period of 72 days, including advanced flying instruction, aerobatics, and night flying. The trainee would graduate as Sergeant Pilot and would receive their pilot’s flying badge (wings).
19th August 1941 – Admitted to hospital for Nasopharyngitis
23rd August 1941 – Discharged from hospital
25th September 1941 – Finishes Service Flying Training and awarded Pilot’s Flying Badge
Frederick finishes his Service Flying Training and is recommended by the Chief Instructor for ‘type of service squadron’: Bomber. In all, Frederick completed 133 hours and 50 minutes of flying training.
Individual Record of Flying
“Average pilot. Navigation: 69%.”
N. S. Anderson S/L., Squadron Commander
“Average student somewhat erratic. Conduct and deportment good.”
D. J. R. Cairns S/L., Chief Ground Instructor
“Will make an above average pilot with experience.”
E. M. Mitchell W/C., Chief Instructor
Group Capt. E. G. Fullerton – Officer Commanding No.9 S.F.T.S.
Frederick receives his pilot’s flying badge (wings) from Group Captain Elmer Garfield Fullerton, and is then promoted to Sergeant.
26th September 1941 – Transferred to No.1 “Y” Depot, Halifax, N.S.
Headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, No.1 “Y” Depot was a holding unit where airmen on the move would be assigned for pay and rations, but could be physically located just about anywhere on the east coast, while awaiting transportation overseas. It was common to have one or two weeks leave before departing for Europe, and airmen would be on No.1 “Y” Depot books during this time.
10th October 1941 – General Conduct Sheet: A.W.O.L.
“AWL 23:59 hours 9-10-41 to 22:00 hours 10-10-41. 22 hrs. 1 min. Punishment: Reprimanded. Forfeits 1 day’s pay.”
I don’t have any more information about Frederick’s ‘absent without leave’ on 10th October, but I’m guessing by the date and times, that maybe he took his two weeks leave but had turned up one day late. It’s possible that airmen would have to report back to No.1 “Y” Depot after their leave.
14th October 1941 – Transferred to RAF Trainees Pool
The Royal Air Force Trainees Pool (RAF T/P) was located at the port in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where airmen were posted just prior to embarkation for the trans-Atlantic trip to the UK (or wherever directed). It is probable that the graduates would cease to be attached to the RCAF, and from the date of their posting to RAF T/P, would be attached to the RAF from this point onwards.
15th October 1941 – Embarked Canada for the UK
31st October 1941 – Posted to No.3 Personnel Reception Centre (PRC), Bournemouth, UK
The function of the PRC was to orientate aircrew as they arrived into the UK, and to act as an agent for the air ministry in arranging postings. The main role was really to keep aircrew employed until they could be utilised, and would have been medically checked out, briefed on their responsibilities and forthcoming duties, given lectures by experienced aircrew, before being assigned to their next posting.
12th November 1941 – Posted to No.1 Air Observer School (AOS) at RAF Wigtown
Known locally as Baldoon, RAF Wigtown was the home to No.1 Air Observer School. The station acclimatised airmen who had trained abroad under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, to UK terrain and weather conditions, and RAF procedures. Aircraft types were initially Blenheims and Bothas, but in March 1942, the unit title changed to No 1 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) and their aircraft were replaced by mostly Avro Ansons.
Avro Anson 652A MK1 (photo by Brendan Scott)
In 1933, the British Air Ministry proposed that the Royal Air Force acquire a relatively cheap landplane for coastal reconnaissance duties; the aircraft would operate alongside larger and more expensive flying boats. An invitation to tender was issued, and the British aircraft manufacturer, Avro, responded to the request with the Avro Anson 652A, which was a modified version of the earlier Anson 652, a twin-engine, six-seat civil passenger airliner. A single prototype was ordered, which conducted its maiden flight on 24th March 1935 at Woodford Aerodrome, Greater Manchester. Having impressed the British Air Ministry, and winning the bid, an initial order was placed in July 1935 for 174 aircraft.
The structure of the Anson was relatively straightforward and uncomplicated, relying on proven methods and robust construction to produce an airframe that minimised maintenance requirements. Powered by a pair of Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah engines, the Anson possessed many features that lent itself to the role, including considerable load-carrying capability, and long range. The defensive armaments of the modified Anson consisted of a Vickers machine gun which was fixed within the nose and aimed by the pilot, and a Lewis gun fitted in a dorsal turret. The Ansons that were used in training roles were fitted with dual controls and usually had the gun turret removed. The Anson was also used to train the other members of a bomber’s aircrew, such as navigators, wireless operators, bomb aimers and air gunners.
Deliveries to the RAF commenced on 6th March 1936, with No. 48 Squadron being the first RAF unit to be equipped with the aircraft. By the outbreak of WW2, the RAF had received a total of 824 aircraft, and the Anson soon became a multi-role aircraft. Its true role became, however, to train pilots for flying multi-engine bombers, such as the Avro Lancaster. The aircraft played a major role in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which included large deliveries of Ansons to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and continued to be used in this role throughout and after the conflict, remaining in service until 28th June 1968.
The world’s only MK I Anson in flying condition today, is K6183 (photo above) which was faithfully restored by Bill Reid and his family of New Zealand. Originally manufactured during 1943, this restored aircraft returned to the air in Nelson, New Zealand on 18th July 2012.
The Avro Anson was named after British Admiral George Anson.
25th March 1942 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt)
19th April 1942 – Transferred to No.4 Air Observer School at RAF West Freugh, Stranraer.
RAF West Freugh
Formerly a First World War naval airship base in Wigtownshire, Scotland, known as RNAS Luce Bay, RAF West Freugh opened in 1937 as an armament training camp. During WW2, the base expanded to include training schools for observers, navigators and bomb aimers.
The units at RAF West Freugh during WW2 were:
No.10 Service Flying Training School – formed 22nd October 1939
No.4 Air Observer School – formed 4th November 1939
No.4 Bombing & Gunnery School – re-designated 11th January 1940
No.4 Air Observer School – reformed 14th June 1941
No.4 Observer Advanced Flying Unit – re-designated 11th June 1943
No.4 Observer Advanced Flying Unit – disbanded 21st June 1945
During WW2, using medical and ground staff from the units, the founding teams of RAF Llandwrog (North Wales), RAF Millom (Lake District), and RAF Harpur Hill (Peak District), are credited with some of the earliest development of mountain rescue techniques in the United Kingdom and overseas. Operations required teams to rescue any survivors, and sadly on many occasions, recover bodies of airmen, and dismantle and retrieve all wreckage from the plane crash sites on high ground and surrounding areas. Initially, rescue teams were formed as early as 1918, with help from local police, farmers, mountaineers, and medical staff from RAF stations, however, it wasn’t till 1943 that the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service (RAFMRS) was officially established.
A Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service team was based at West Freugh from 1945 to 1956.
West Freugh airfield is no longer licensed or active, however, the base is available for military exercises. Since 2001, West Freugh has been operated by defence contractor QinetiQ who use it as a test range for bombs and air-to-ground missiles.
22nd May 1942 – General Conduct Sheet: Creating a disturbance
“While on Active Service creating a disturbance at the main gate of RAF Station West Freugh on 22-5-42.”
23rd May 1942 – General Conduct Sheet: Drunk
“While on Active Service drunk in the ‘Burns Arms’, Dalrymple Street, Stranraer at 18:35 hrs. on 23-5-42. Punishment: Severely Reprimanded.”
4th August 1942 – General Conduct Sheet: Failed to report for briefing
“While on Active Service failing to comply with night flying orders issued by the Chief Flying Instructor on 4-8-42, in that he failed to report for briefing at 18:00 hrs. on 4-8-42. Punishment: Reprimanded”
25th September 1942 – Promoted to Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2)
1st October 1942 – Died in a flying accident on Great Gable, Lake District
Anson DJ.410 crash on Great Gable
On the night of 30th September 1942, Anson DJ.410 was one of seven aircraft from the same unit undertaking night navigation exercises. The intended course of DJ.410 was: RAF West Freugh, with turning points at RAF Carlisle and RAF Ronaldsway, before returning back to base at RAF West Freugh.
Intended route, turning points and crash site of Anson DJ.410
Having successfully reached the Silloth Pundit Beacon, the 1st Navigator set course for RAF Carlisle, however, Carlisle Pundit Beacon was “not seen”; this was probably due to low cloud that was reported that night.
Each airfield was allocated a unique two letter Pundit Code, usually based on the name of the site, such as ‘BL’ for RAF Beaulieu. Codes were visible from the air, with some airfields displaying 10 feet high letters near the control tower, while established airfields had concrete letters set into the grass. By 1937, all airfields used for night flying were also equipped with a Pundit Beacon. This used red lamps to flash the two-letter Pundit Code in Morse. During wartime the red beacon became a familiar marker for returning bomber crews, signalling the end of a mission.
Having not seen the Carlisle Pundit, the 1st Navigator then gave the Pilot, W/O Frederick Cadham, the course for Ronaldsway, however, the Pilot continued on the original course for a further four minutes before turning. The 1st Navigator was worried at this point and asked for QDMs (magnetic bearings) from RAF Silloth, however, the aircraft was now off course and flying in thick cloud over the Lake District fells (mountains).
Green Gable, Windy Gap (col) and the north face of Great Gable, from Moses’ Trod (path)
Before any reply came from RAF Silloth, the aircraft broke through the cloud only to see the north face of Great Gable in front of them. The pilot throttled back and turned sharply left to avoid hitting the scree below Gable Crag, however, at 00:35 hours the aircraft crashed just below Windy Gap between Green Gable and Great Gable. It states in the accident report that the “point of crash was 14 miles south of route”.
The pilot, W/O Frederick Orchard Cadham R/77498 RCAF, died of “multiple injuries”.
RAF Death Report – Description of injuries:
“Severe head injuries and fractured left femur (compound) resulting in death”.
Hospital or Sick List – Record Card
According to the ‘Hospital or Sick List – Record Card’, Frederick was “brought down hillside by police but died on way”. There is confusion where Frederick actually died, because on the RAF Death Report (dated 5.10.42), it states that he was “admitted for a day to Whitehaven General Hospital”, however, I strongly believe this to be a clerical error, and that it is more likely that Frederick did die on the way down from Great Gable. To also add, the ‘Hospital or Sick List – Record Card’ is more likely to give an accurate report due to it being signed and dated on the same day as the ‘Court of Inquiry’ at RAF West Freugh.
RAF West Freugh’s Operations Record Book for October 1942
1st Oct. 1942 – “Anson Aircraft No.DJ.410. crashed near Whitehaven, Sea Fell, carrying a crew of five. Sergeant Cadham R.C.A.F. died of injuries, the remainder of the crew were safe. though injured.”
6th Oct. 1942 – “W/C Potter arrived for the Court of Inquiry into accident to Anson number DJ.410.”
Even though a short summary of the incident, the ‘Operations Record Book’ from RAF West Freugh provides two important pieces of information, that are not written anywhere in Frederick Cadham’s service files. Firstly, it mentions that there were “five” crew members on board, and secondly, four crew members came down “safe, though injured”. Although I’ve no official confirmation of this, it’s a strong possibility that one, or more surviving crew members, managed to walk down to Black Sail Hut in Upper Ennerdale to summon help; I don’t think that Frederick would’ve been left up there on his own though, especially with such severe injuries.
Black Sail Hut (2018)
Built in the late 19th century, Black Sail Hut started life as a simple shepherd’s bothy. Ownership passed to the Forestry Commission who acquired the entire valley, and then in 1933 leased the property to the Youth Hostel Association (YHA). The hostel operated during the years of WW2, except 1944 when it was closed for repairs. Previously known as the “Ennerdale Hut”, it was renamed “Black Sail” after the nearby pass over to Wasdale. The word “sail” is derived from an Old Norse word meaning boggy place. Many words brought over by Viking settlers can still be found in Cumbrian place names, such as “dale”, “beck” and “fell”.
Great Gable from Black Sail Hut, Upper Ennerdale (postcard dated between 1933 and 1935)
The old photo above shows the location of Black Sail Hut in relation to Great Gable, and the route taken by the rescue and recovery teams. Green Gable, Windy Gap above Stone Cove and Great Gable can be seen in the background, while the slopes of Kirk Fell tower over Upper Ennerdale on the right. Help would have arrived from the Mountain Rescue Unit from RAF Millom, and the most likely route down from Windy Gap, especially because it was a night time rescue, would be to follow Liza Beck from Stone Cove and down to safety at Black Sail Hut.
During the two months of researching this story, my thoughts have always been with Frederick Cadham, and what terrible suffering he must have gone through on that night. We can’t hide away from that, and in reality Frederick spent many hours waiting for rescue to arrive. I have, if only a rough estimate, worked out how long it may have taken, which includes the aircrew walking down to Black Sail Hut (injured), the Mountain Rescue Unit travelling from Millom, and then climbing up to the crash site; my guess is five to six hours. Then there’s the time to comfort and prepare Frederick for the journey down, and the walk down with the stretcher, which I would guess is about another one and a half hours. In all, it would have taken no less than seven hours from the crash happening at 00:35, to getting Frederick down to Black Sail Hut; this of course was on a cold October night, and Frederick had a severe head injury and a compound fracture of the left femur.
Full accident report of DJ.410
On 6th October 1942, five days after the accident, a Court of Inquiry was held at RAF West Freugh.
Report of flying accident or forced landing not attributable to enemy action
Unit: “4 A.O.S.”
Date of incident: “1.10.42”
Time: “00:35 hours”
Site of incident: “Great Gable”
Operational or Non-operational: “Non-operational”
Day or Night Flying: “Night”
Purpose: “Nav. Exercise.”
Marks or series: “I”
RAF No. and makers’ No. for engines: “DJ.410”
Engine: “Cheetah IX”
Extent of damage: “Write off”
All Occupants of Aircraft: “Pilot Cadham F.O. Sgt R.77498 Killed”
For some reason the names of the other four crew members were not recorded on the accident report, even though statements were made by them:
Report by appropriate specialist officers – “A full technical report has not been received from the unit investigating the crash, but from a telephonic report from the technical officer of the unit, and statements made by members of the crew, there was no technical failure.”
“I consider that this accident was due to an error of judgement of the part of the pilot in not flying at a sufficient minimum height to allow for deviations from route.”
The report was not dated or signed.
Frederick Cadham’s death certificate
When and where Died: “First October 1942. West side of Great Gable Mountain. Gillerthwaite. Ennerdale and Kinniside. Cleator Moor R.D.”
Cause of Death: “Due to War Operations.”
Frederick’s grave at St Luke’s, Haverigg, Cumbria
Letter to the Under Secretary of State, Air Ministry
First visit to the crash site 09/08/18
Green Gable and Great Gable from Kirk Fell
While out walking with author and linescape artist Mark Richards, I decided to visit Stone Cove to search the area for any fragments left at the crash site. Stone Cove is a depression between Green Gable and Great Gable, and like the name suggests, it is littered with scree and boulders. Mark was in the process of “re-structuring” his eight volume ‘Lakeland Fellranger’ series and invited me to join him on one of his research days. The day was fantastic for the camera; the previous weeks were dull so I was keen to develop a new route for ‘Lakeland Routes’. Mark was walking the Ennerdale skyline which included Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Brandreth and Haystacks, however, I asked if he wouldn’t mind me diverting to Stone Cove while he scrambled over Great Gable; the plan then was to meet again on Green Gable.
Greengable Crag and Windy Gap from the base of Stone Cove
With prior knowledge that the crash site is on the Great Gable side of Stone Cove, and near the top just below Windy Gap, I began my search through the labyrinth of boulders. Normally when searching plane crash sites in mountainous areas like this, debris can be found lower down from the impact areas. This can be due to a few factors: being blown down, thawing ice, people picking it up and then discarding it, or bits falling off much bigger sections during the recovery process. So, my search began at the base of Stone Cove, and I started my way through the maze of rock on the Great Gable side of the cove, and headed upwards towards the col of Windy Gap.
Windy Gap is a narrow ridge (col) between Green Gable and Great Gable, and is a popular link for walkers wanting to climb these two Lakeland fells. From Moses’ Trod (a path that traverses below the two fells) a distinct scree path leads to Windy Gap, however, this route is less popular so I should be left undisturbed; not that I do get disturbed on the fells by the way, I just didn’t want anyone asking me what I was doing while bent over looking between the boulders.
Aluminium fragment found at the impact area
Oddly at this site I couldn’t find any fragments at the lower reaches of the cove; not a thing, only a couple of modern day objects like water bottles, a map case and a pair of underpants! However, when I arrived at the impact area, just below Windy Gap, I did find this crumpled piece of aluminium, and I was in no doubt that it came from an aircraft; I was well chuffed because I hadn’t seen any fragments reported on the internet.
Boot found in Stone Cove
Just a few feet away, between two large boulders and partially buried in moss, I noticed a couple of eyelets. I pulled the item out of its slimy grave and was stunned to find a boot.
The outsole and hobnails
After noticing the hobnails, I simply thought it was an old climber’s boot and didn’t get too excited by it; after all, it’s not really what I’m looking for, so I took a few photos and placed it back where I found it.
Looking down into Ennerdale from the crash site
From the picture above, you can see Liza Beck that winds its way from the cove and down through Ennerdale. Also on the right, the scree path that heads towards Windy Gap.
Mark Richards waiting on the summit of Green Gable
It wasn’t till I started my approach towards the summit of Green Gable, where Mark had been waiting patiently for me, that my mind began working overtime; could this boot be from the plane that crashed in 1942? I had no knowledge of footwear worn by servicemen from that period, so my long journey of research begins.
Second visit to the crash site 11/08/18
After a few nights of little sleep, I knew I had to go back up there. I spent the day before searching the internet for information about service clothing and footwear, and I learnt that service boots were stamped with the War Department initials: “WD”. In the middle of these initials there would be the ‘Pheon’ (Broad Arrow), which was used as a British government property mark on War Department equipment. So, I had to visit the crash site again to check for these marks, plus I wasn’t 100% happy where I had left the boot, so my intention was to place it in a more secure location.
War Department stamp on the quarter
Once I arrived back at the crash site, I retrieved the boot from where I had left it and carefully looked around the boot parts for any markings. On the outside of the ‘quarter’, and even though faded, I could just make out the marks: “W ⩚ D”, which confirmed it to be the property of the War Department.
The ‘Pheon’ (Broad Arrow)
The broad arrow (⩚) was used in England from the mid 16th century, to mark objects purchased from the monarch’s money, or to indicate government property. It was particularly associated with the Office or Board of Ordnance, the principal duty of which was to supply guns, ammunition, stores and equipment to the King’s Navy. An Order in Council of 1664, relating to the requisitioning of merchant ships for naval use, similarly authorised the Commissioners of the navy “to put the broad arrow on any ship in the river they had a mind to hire, and fit them out for sea”. From the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, the broad arrow regularly appeared on military boxes and equipment such as canteens, bayonets and rifles. It was routinely used on British prison uniforms from about the 1830s onwards. Topped with a horizontal line, it was widely used on Ordnance Survey benchmarks. The War Department and (from 1964) the Ministry of Defence continued to use the mark.
It is currently a criminal offence in the United Kingdom to reproduce the broad arrow without permission.
The John White stamp on the insole
On closer inspection of the insole, I was astonished to still be able to see the maker’s name, “John White”, the boot size “11”, the foot width “S”, and the date “1941” which was when the boot was manufactured.
From Frederick Cadham’s RCAF Record Kit List
The last pair of ankle boots issued to Frederick, was on 8th May 1941 while being stationed at the Initial Training School in Victoriaville, Quebec; I later learned that ‘John White’ boots were issued to all Allied Forces in WW2. The boot I found looked well warn with scars, so it’s a strong possibility that this boot is one of a pair issued on his kit list. Frederick had signed for each item issued with a simple: “FC”.
A few key facts left me with no doubt that this boot did belong to the pilot Frederick Cadham:
- It was found exactly where the plane had crashed, and no other plane has been recorded crashing in Stone Cove.
- The year the boot was manufactured fits perfectly within Frederick Cadham’s military timeline.
- It is a left boot, and in all probability it was cut off as a result of the compound fracture of his left femur.
- Though injured, all other crew members managed to walk down into Ennerdale.
- The toe end seems to be torn/damaged and not just rotted away over time.
- Frederick was a size 9.5 (UK 8.5) and the boot is a women’s size 11. Frederick had small feet for a male, and it is most likely that a men’s UK size 8.5 wasn’t available at the time; a women’s size 11 is equivalent to a men’s size 8.5.
Very close to where I initially found the boot between two large boulders, I buried it in a more secure location to keep it safe from the elements and any collectors; I’m sure you’ll agree this was justified.
While on my way down from Great Gable, I messaged the maker’s name to my very good friend, John Fearn. John had been researching this story with me, and was just as keen as me to learn more about this plane crash. Before I arrived back to my car at Honister Hause, John had replied with a link to the “John White” of Northamptonshire story.
The John White story and Spitfire ‘Impregnable’
John White outside his home in Northampton Road
John White was born in 1884 in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire. At the age of twelve (1896) he left school much against his father’s wishes, and started in the shoemaking trade just as mechanisation was being introduced.
“I was the youngest, of nine brothers and sisters and we came from a long line of shoe makers, or cordwainers to use the correct and more colourful term.”
John White aged 19 (1903)
In 1902, after several changes of employer, each job a little more skilled than the last, he joined John Shortland’s Express Works at Irthlingborough as a clicker (person who cuts the uppers). A year after his marriage to Nancy Darnell in 1911, John took the opportunity to join Charles Horrell as a well-paid clicker.
“In 1912, when we had been married a year, Charles Horrell of Rushden advertised for clickers. It was our opportunity to settle in Rushden.”
By 1918, John White was ready to start his own business. At first he couldn’t get a machinery licence to get a press for cutting the soles, so he started cutting uppers and selling them on.
“At the end of the war in 1918 we debated, myself and the wife, and decided to ‘have a go’, but I couldn’t find anywhere to start in, no shop, and no room.”
John White’s first workshop
“Close to where my wife’s parents lived we found an old paint shop. I gave up my job to start making shoes, or so I thought. I was handy with my tools, and soon made the little shop quite nice. I made benches, shelves, racks, everything, and bought a clicking board. I kept cutting and selling uppers, building up capital for the time when I would be able to start making shoes properly. Then, in 1919, I got my sole press and I was in business as a manufacturer. By the end of 1919 I had a staff of four people including myself, and one my nephew who had been a prisoner-of-war in Germany.”
The following year a shoe manufacturer on Church Street went out of business and walked out leaving everything in the three-storey building, which John bought and was fortunate to find the previous owner had left a list of all his customers.
John White’s first factory on Church Street
“In 1920, a young shoe manufacturer in the town failed very badly. He had been in business in what had been a three-storey house. I bought it. He had left everything; just walked out and abandoned everything as it was. He left his office with all his customers’ names and everything to do with the business. I never saw him again. What a mess! I was only about two years in this place, but I turned out 2,000 pairs a week.”
In 1921 another manufacturer in Rushden went out of business. They had much bigger premises on Newton Road, which John White purchased for £4,000. Even though he gained all their ‘lasting machinery’, the majority of the work was done by hand and he made a big point of this in his early advertisements in the trade papers. This played a big part in selling shoes, and production went from 2,000 to 6,000 pairs a week.
John White (Impregnable Boots) Ltd on Newton Road
By 1928 the Newton Road factory had been extended three times. Two years later (1930) competition was growing and prices began to fall, so John White decided to design a new shoe with a full page advert in the Daily Mail to launch the ‘Impregnable’ brand.
The 1930s ‘Impregnable’ advert
Further expansions continued throughout the 30s when Alderman Owen Parker’s factory in Higham Ferrers came vacant, and was purchased in 1936, and a modern purpose built factory was erected in Lime Street in 1939.
“In those last pre-war years, we were really going ahead. I had extra managers everywhere, good ones too, I made sure of that. But two of them thought: ‘If he can make money like that, why can’t we?’ So my two most important managers left. There was an empty factory in the town and they started what they called the Legion Boot Company. They carried on for about a year. In the second year they were in trouble and failed badly. I’d been to London one day, when I got out of the train, I met one of these chaps shaking with emotion. He was going to a meeting of creditors and thought he would lose his house. I said: ‘Now look here, don’t think any more about it. Go and get this over and come back and see me’. They came back to work with me until they died, both of them.”
By 1941 there were nine factories employing two thousand workers, and output was now at three million pairs annually, much of it for the army, air force and navy. This was a new era for the John White story, and the company would play an important role during WW2.
“We concentrated on making shoes for the services and produced in all more than eight million pairs – one ninth of the footwear supplied to the British Forces. We made a remarkable variety of service footwear including the Army ankle boot; a knee boot for drivers; jungle boot; the special boots made for commandos and the R.A.F.; a flying boot; canvas boots for the Royal Navy and the nursing services. Long after the war, ex-servicemen used to send for our products because they remembered that their wartime boots had the name John White stamped inside them.”
Spitfire MK II P8385 ‘Impregnable’
Spitfire MK II P8385 ‘Impregnable’ was purchased with funds donated by management and staff of John White (Impregnable Boots) Ltd. The Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph made an appeal for funds to buy an aircraft for the war effort, so the company donated £5000 towards the purchase of a spitfire. The company insisted that the aircraft go to a Polish squadron, so in May 1941 it was allocated to 303 Squadron at RAF Northolt.
When the ‘Battle of Britain’ was still searing the skies over British soil and waters, the ‘Impregnable’ emerged from the factory in time for the R.A.F.’s tremendous counter-blow, and its history is one of audacious attack against German aerodromes and the gallant escorting of Britain’s bomber fleets over occupied Europe.
P/O Bronislaw Klosin and ‘Impregnable’
While at RAF Northolt the aircraft soon became a hit for photograph souvenirs amongst the pilots of 303 squadron.
F/O Mirosław “Ox” Ferić
Between 15th May and 12th July 1941, before the 303 squadron moved to Speke, near Liverpool, P8385 ‘Impregnable’ was Polish fighter ace Mirosław Ferić’s personal mount. On 22nd June, at 16:10, he claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 (Me 109) which was destroyed, followed five days later at 12:15 by a Me 109 (damaged). In all, during its time at RAF Northolt between May and July 1941, four 303 pilots scored victories with this Spitfire:
F/O Ferić, 22nd June, Me 109, destroyed, and 27th June Me 109, damaged
Sgt Szagowski, 23rd June, Me 109, probably destroyed
F/L Arentowicz, 25th June, Me 109, damaged
F/O Zumbach, 2nd July, Me 109, destroyed, and Me 109, probably destroyed
P8385’s other squadron pilots included P/O Gladych, P/O Drecki, and Sgt Popek.
Mirosław Ferić, who claimed seven German aircraft during the Battle of Britain, was killed during a practice flight over RAF Northolt airfield on 14th February 1942. He is buried in Northwood Cemetery, London.
Plaque sent to the company by the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1941
“Dear Mr. White
Your most generous contribution for the purchase of an “Impregnable” Spitfire commands my deepest gratitude. You strengthen the Air Force for the vital struggles that lie ahead, and you set an example of devotion to our country’s cause which must inspire the friends of freedom and justice in every land. Against the spirit which inspired your gift the hosts of Hitler and his Italian satellites will give battle in vain. While it prevails, victory is certain. I send you my warmest thanks.
Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production”
John White checking a piece of leather
John White had been a benefactor to many local good causes. He treated his workers well with social events and outings, and kept them all in full time work throughout the depression years. He continued to do all the costings himself and, by paying bills early to claim discounts, the business flourished. A year after celebrating his Golden Wedding Anniversary he retired in 1962.
John White died in June 1974.
Geoff Bland of Silloth
Mark Richards, who I was out walking with on my first visit to the crash site, recommended that I visit his friend, Geoff Bland of Silloth. Geoff, who was a founding member of Keswick Mountaineering Club, is an expert on plane crash sites in the Lake District, and has spent 20 years searching the sites with his close friend, David W Earl of Manchester; David’s four volume “Lost to the Isles: Accounts of Military Aircraft Accidents Around the Scottish Isles”, gives detailed accounts of 164 aircraft accidents on and around the Scottish Islands from 1914 to 1990.
Geoff had finished his National Service in the early 50s. He then served in the Royal Navy and one of his ships was HMS Opportune which had been on the Arctic Russian Convoys in the war, and he got to know many of the crew from that time.
Geoff and Jaclyn looking through the crash site photo albums
Geoff had kindly invited Jaclyn and I to his home in Silloth, so I took the opportunity to take with us some photos of the boot that I had found on Great Gable. Of course Geoff was thrilled to see the photos, and was very happy to hear about the pilot and what happened on that tragic night. Geoff then asked me to pull out one of his many photo albums, because he remembered that he had searched that area with David Earl. He then showed me a photo that he had taken on the Green Gable side of Stone Cove, which is on the opposite side to the crash site on Great Gable. The photo showed a fragment of the plane wreckage, but it didn’t make any sense; how can any fragments be on the Green Gable side of Stone Cove? Geoff was also confused by this and recommended that I search this side of the cove, especially in the area below Greengable Crag.
While sat looking through Geoff’s photo albums, I glanced over to a picture on the wall. This was a photo of Geoff and his wife, who were smartly dressed and standing proud in front of a shoe shop. Of course this interested me because I had only just finished researching the ‘John White’ story the day before, but I was then flabbergasted to see in the shop window a large poster promoting John White shoes! Geoff told me that the shoe shop, on Eden Street in Silloth, was started around 1934 by his parents, Alf and Mabel Bland, and they specialised in John White shoes. Sadly Alf died young in 1947 and after his return from service in the Royal Navy, Geoff, and his mum, continued to run ‘M&G Bland’ before Geoff and his wife emigrated to Australia in 1967.
On his return to England in 1990, now aged 60, Geoff began his quest to search the plane crash sites on the Lakeland fells. Now 88 years old (2018), sadly Geoff’s days searching on the Lakeland fells are over, but he does have a vast collection of memories in his photo albums. Meeting Geoff at his home, listening to his fascinating stories, and of course looking through his wonderful collection of crash site photos, certainly was the highlight of our research for this story.
Third visit to the crash site 31/08/18
After seeing Geoff’s photo of a fragment from the plane wreckage, we simply had to go up there again and find an explanation as to why any fragments would be on the Green Gable side of the Stone Cove.
Greengable Crag (left), Windy Gap and Gable Crag (right) from Stone Cove
Geoff’s photo was taken on the left side of Stone Cove, and much further down from Windy Gap, however, the plane crashed near the top towards Windy Gap, and just below Gable Crag on the right. We spent many hours searching a large area of scree and boulders below Greengable Crag, but I wasn’t all that keen on actually finding anything; as finding any fragments on this side of the cove would certainly produce more questions.
Piece found below Greengable Crag
This large rusty piece of metal was part of the 20 mile long parish boundary ‘Ennerdale Fence’, which once enclosed the valley of Ennerdale down both lengths and around its head. Large boulders were placed on these base plates to secure the fence posts.
Smaller piece found below Greengable Crag
Eventually, we did find a piece that didn’t look to be from the ‘Ennerdale Fence’; this was found below Greengable Crag, but not too far from the path that ascends through Stone Cove and up towards Windy Gap.
Finding this piece, and knowing that Geoff and David had found a much larger fragment in the same area, baffled me, and my initial thoughts were that the crash report was wrong. Maybe the plane had skimmed the scree on this side of the cove, and then turned right and finally came to a stop on the other side? I couldn’t get my head around this, and over the next few weeks it seemed to be the most important question on my mind.
After more research, and some advice from Geoff Bland, we feel the crash report was correct, and these pieces were leftover from when the plane was dismantled. Firstly, it was often the case that electrical and radar equipment were buried near the site, either in the soil or beneath large boulders. The bulk of the plane would’ve been dismantled into more manageable sections, and any timber stripped from the plane would’ve been burned on site; hence the reason why sometimes at these crash sites there is scarring on the ground, with just a few small pieces of metal and screws left behind. So, in all probability the plane wreckage was brought down from the top of the cove to a safer level, then stripped before the majority of it was taken off the fell.
This was the end of our search for fragments in Stone Cove, but what about the boot? Well, initially, a local museum showed a keen interest in the story, with the intention of possibly displaying the boot. I had mixed feelings about this at the beginning, but I soon came round to the idea. Sadly though, the directors of the museum had a change of heart, saying: “The museum feel that it would be too personal an artefact to display and that it would be considered in bad taste by the visiting public”.
Remembering Frederick Orchard Cadham
War memorial in St Luke’s churchyard, Haverigg, Millom, Cumbria
The Commonwealth War Graves in St Luke’s churchyard
R.77498 WARRANT OFFICER II
F. O. CADHAM
ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
1ST OCTOBER 1942
Memorial glass panel in Millom Discovery Centre
This memorial glass panel is dedicated to 19 young men who died during two world wars. Their graves in St Luke’s churchyard were tended between 1992 and 2012 by Lynne Wilkinson of Haverigg, who commissioned this glass panel to honour them. Since 2012 the 19 graves have been maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Lynne and Ken Wilkinson also commissioned the renovation of the war memorial in the churchyard, which was completed in 2015 by Atkinson Memorials of Ulverston.
The etching on the memorial glass panel reads:
COMMONWEALTH WAR DEAD 1939-1945
ATHERTON Flight Sergeant HENRY MARINUS 414123 RAAF 13-4-43
CADHAM W/O FREDERICK ORCHARD R/77498 RCAF 1-10-42
COOK Flt Sgt LEONARD THOMAS 412399 RAAF 23-4-43
COOK Gunner THOMAS KENNETH 150563 RA 25-12-43
DES BAILLETS Sgt CHARLES R/79007 RCAF 2-11-41
DUFF F/O (Nav) ROBERT ALEXANDER J/21885 RCAF 8-4-43
FINBOW P/O (Nav) MAURICE HERBERT J/14740 RCAF 8-4-43
GIBSON Sgt HENRY LINCOLN 406467 RAAF 10-1-42
JUPP W/O THOMAS WILLIAM 909889 RAF.VR 20-9-42
MACKERRETH Gunner JOHN EDWARD 3710341 RA 6-4-45
PEPPER P/O WILLIAM MARCUS J/8618 RCAF 17-12-41
ROLLASON F/O RICHARD WILLIAM 403018 RAAF 24-5-42
SMITH F/S HARRY 641453 RAF 8-2-43
THOMPSON Sgt THOMAS JAMES 515446 RAF 8-2-43
VERNON L/A HUMPHREY WARINE JOSEPH 1058559 RAF.VR 22-8-41
WADHAM Sgt MAURICE HENRY 407740 RAAF 10-1-42
WAR DEAD 1914-1918
TYSON Private WG 8/16491 BORDER RT 371972 10-4-20
NON W.W DEAD
FULLERTON ALFRED Civilian 12-3-41
Books of Remembrance in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The Peace Tower is a clock tower sitting on the central axis of the Centre Block of the Canadian parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario. It was designed by architect John A. Pearson, who personally collected stones from the main European battlefields where Canadians were killed, to include in the construction of the floors and walls. The tower houses the Memorial Chamber, a vaulted room with stained glass windows and various other features illustrating Canada’s war record, such as the brass plates made from spent shell casings found on battlefields that were inlaid into the floor. The Books of Remembrance, that list all Canadian soldiers, airmen, and seamen who died in service, are displayed in glass cases on seven altars around the Memorial Chamber. The pages of each book are turned daily at 11am, so every name is on display to visitors at least once during each calendar year.
Green Gable and Haystacks walk
Download PDF map
I’ve provided the map above for anyone wishing to visit the crash site in Stone Cove. Starting from Honister Hause, the route initially follows Moses’ Trod (an old smuggler’s route) before reaching the summit of Green Gable. From here you are rewarded with a splendid view down into Ennerdale. After visiting the crash site just below Windy Gap, you then follow the route that the rescuers would’ve taken down Liza Beck, before reaching Black Sail Hut in upper Ennerdale. The walk then finishes with a wonderful route back to Honister Hause via Haystacks and Innominate Tarn.
W/O Frederick Orchard Cadham RCAF
1917 – 1942
His boot was found at this crash site in
Placed where the boot was found, we strongly believe that a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of Frederick was appropriate. We appreciate that some may disagree with memorials in our countryside, but we have fixed this plaque out of sight from the path, and we feel it was the right thing to do due to the story connected to the boot, and the young man who lost his life on that night.
Great Gable and Windy Gap from the south-east slope of Green Gable
I want to finish the story with this photo of Windy Gap, taken from the Aaron Slack side of the Gables. The dark buttress of Gable Crag on Great Gable, towers over the gentler green slope of Green Gable.
It’s heart-breaking to think that the aircraft nearly made it through this narrow gap between these two Lakeland fells, but sadly it failed to reach sufficient height by only a few metres.
Frederick was a young man in an unfamiliar country, preparing himself to fight a war that had been raging for over three years. He enlisted to fight that war, and completed his training with great marks. Yes, he was a bit of a lad, liked the odd pint or two, and went A.W.O.L. a couple of times, but he gained his wings and was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. He made a terrible error that night, but due to his quick reaction to avoid a head-on collision with Gable Crag, he clearly saved the lives of the other four crew members. We will never know fully what happened on that night, but to me, Frederick Orchard Cadham was one of many heroes of WW2, and will forever be remembered.
Contact from Canada
In December 2021, three and half years after I found the boot on Great Gable, I received an email from Hedley Auld of Winnipeg, Canada. When researching for these stories, it gives great pleasure to meet and hear from people who have a mutual interest in what you are writing, but it can be even more rewarding when you receive correspondence years after the stories have been published. As well as providing some information about Frederick Cadham’s family, Hedley kindly shared with me his father’s connection with the British Commonwealth Training Plan. During the Second World War, Walter Murray Auld came to Winnipeg as an inspector for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He then joined MacDonald Brothers Aircraft Company, a wartime builder of training aircraft, which included the Avro Anson. In 1942, he became its General Manager and remained with the firm as it became Bristol Aerospace. He was President of the firm from 1967 to 1981.
I just want to finish with a special thanks to Hedley for sharing this blog post with the Canadian Forces Base in Winnipeg, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada in Winnipeg, and the British Commonwealth Training Plan Museum in Brandon.
Hedley’s email is below:
“To Richard Jennings,
I happened to find tonight, then read with great interest, your fascinating 2018 story on Lakeland Routes about the Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Flight Sergeant Frederick Cadham.
As a Winnipegger, I was struck when I read his family name. Our province’s public health laboratory here in Manitoba, the Cadham Provincial Laboratory, bears the name of Dr. Frederick T. (Fred) Cadham, who led the lab from 1923 to 1947. It turns out Dr. Cadham was Frederick Cadham’s uncle, and namesake. Also, Flight Sergeant Cadham’s grandfather, J.H. Cadham, was an architect who designed many notable buildings built in Winnipeg during the late 19th and early 20th century. Many still exist, including the central block of the Manitoba Medical College, part of the University of Manitoba.
Using these links, you can find out more on the Cadham Provincial Laboratory on its website, and on Cadham family members on the Manitoba Historical Society’s website:
As a one-time resident of Montreal, I offer one clarification for your story: I believe that Frederick Cadham’s family resided on Boulevard St Joseph, which is a major thoroughfare in the Montreal’s Laurier quarter, which lies just east of Mount Royal and northeast of downtown Montreal. The 1921 census taker apparently abbreviated this street name.
I was initially drawn to the story by the references to the Avro Anson. More than 1000 Anson aircraft were built during World War 2 here in Winnipeg for the British Commonwealth Training Plan by MacDonald Brothers Aircraft, which later became Bristol Aerospace, and where my father worked for his entire career starting in 1940.
I would like to bring your story to the attention of the archivist at RCAF 17 Wing here in Winnipeg. Manitoba also has two museums devoted to aviation history: the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada here in Winnipeg, and the British Commonwealth Training Plan Museum in Brandon. I believe your story will be of interest to all of them.
You deserve praise for the efforts you have made to investigate and honour Frederick Cadham.
Best wishes for the holiday season,
Thanks, sources and further reading:
Alan Clegg of Waberthwaite
David W Earl, author of ‘Lost to the Isles: Accounts of Military Aircraft Accidents Around the Scottish Isles’
Geoff Bland of Silloth
Hedley Auld of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
John Nixon, author of ‘The History of RAF Millom: And the Genesis of RAF Mountain Rescue’
Kay Collins, Research Co-ordinator at Rushden Heritage
Lynne Wilkinson of Haverigg
Mark Richards, author of ‘Lakeland Fellranger’
Manitoba Historical Society
and, a very special friend, John Fearn