View Full Version : Crash of AAC Lynx AH.7 XZ668 on 20/08/1995
On 20th August 1995, an Army Air Corps Lynx AH.7 crashed into the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Ploce, killing four of the five soles on board.
Sergeant Martin Osborne
Corporal Iain MacDonald
Airtrooper Roger Willingale
Airtrooper Graham Witherspoon
There are now a number of memorials around this country to these four servicemen as they were they first to die in the Bosnia Peacekeeping Operation held by NATO.
Iain MacDonald was my younger brother & thus I have access to a number of information re the crash & photos, which I hope you find of interest.
Memorial in Bosnia near to where the crash occurred
Memorial Wall at St Nicholas Church, Shepperton. Middx
I have put this on the Flickr map should anyone wish to learn of it’s exact location
War Memorial in Shepperton, Middx
Again located on Flickr Map
Book Of Remembrance at Middle Wallop – Museum
(Note Staff Sergeant M Gwinnell was my brothers best man & Corporal A. Beck was a good mate – all died within a year of each other. 652 Squadron’s darkest times)
a newspaper cutting from one of the national press
And how XZ668 looked in 2010 when I finally caught up with it.
Full photos etc can be seen at
PS : Have no idea how to get larger shots posted - sorry !
Thanks for posting these up Doug and sharing it with us all. The memorials are certainly a very nice tribute to your brother and the others who died in this tragic crash.
This is very moving. Thank you for posting up this very poignant tribute to your brother and the others who were lost. The photo's on the Flicker site really bring home the tragedy of a life cut short. It certainly gave me pause for thought today.
Thanks guys. There are a lot more memorials than I have access to - Trees at Wattisham, Memorial at Ploce, A place on the wall in Staffordshire (must go there one day). I actually think my bruv & his colleagues have more dotted around the world than Winston Churchill.
My name is Simon. I came across this thread whilst searching for information on the crash that killed Iain, Martin, Roger & Graham on that fateful day in August 2005. I was a Lynx pilot in 663 Squadron on that tour and knew Iain and the boys well. In fact, worse than that, I was due to be on the first flight of the day that morning, but swapped with Martin Osborne which meant he went left hand seat with Iain on the first training sortie of the day. It's a day that has haunted me ever since.
No-one can be entirely certain as to what happened that morning - perhaps with the only expection being Atpr Brain - the sole survivor; but as far as I could ascertain, Martin was hands on at the time and was conducting a low banked left hand turn over the Adriatic - somewhere between the Ploce coastline and the small island to the south we used to use for escape and evasion training. The challenge for any pilot banking over water is that the sea and sky meet as one blue amorphous mass, and the horizon disappears therefore. As Martin turned left, I believe he was also descending at the time, and in a manoeuvre that probably ended up in him banking too low, he clipped the blade on the water, thus crashing the aircraft into the sea. As with any water-ditched Helicopter, the aircraft flipped on its back due to the weight of the gearbox and engine(s).
About a month before deployment, Atpr Brain had been in the notorious dunker at Yeovilton, and this undoubtedly saved him, as he was able to orientate himself and exit the aircraft through the side door window. The others in the back were trapped. My understanding is Martin also got out and as he and Brain bobbed to the surface, Martin asked if the others had escaped. In hearing not, he ditched his Mae West life jacket and dived under to try and rescue them. As he opened the side door, the aircraft filled with water and took him and the others with him to their deaths.
I also understand that Iain was killed on impact, as his head struck the aircraft dash, but I have no way of validating this unfortunately. I just hope it was as quick as I think it was.
As Iain was seconded from 1 Regiment, I didn't know him that well, but in the short time I did know him, he was a top guy. Good fun, and a very capable Lynx pilot. He kept us entertained on the flight out to Bosnia from the UK and I remember him fondly. It was particularly hard for me, as I was Martin Osborne's flight commander and had helped bring him on in his flying career back in the Squadron. He also accompanied me as my co-pilot on the flight out from Wattisham to Bosnia.
At the point I strapped in to take the second flight of the day from Ploce, I pulled on my helmet to hear someone in a Gazelle on the radio saying: "I can see some blades in the water......but I cannot see any bodies." I quickly tried to ascertain who it was that had crashed, but the stark realisation that the Gazelle was only one of two aircraft airborne at the time - the other being Martin, Iain and the boys - my heart sank. I knew what had happened and that it was not going to be good news. What followed was very dark and excrutiatingly sad for the whole Squadron and I have never really got over it. God knows how the soldiers in Afghanistan deal with this on a daily basis.
Every anniversary of their deaths on August 20th, I find time to have a quiet moment to remember them. As you no doubt do too, I shed some tears, and then realise how lucky I am to still be here. I am also plagued by the "what-ifs" - in particular, what if I had taken that first flight as commander - this would probably have not happened. Bt that is a pointless exercise, as it did happen and nothing can wind the clock back.
I feel a strange kind of calmness in making contact with you - almost a catharsis. And yet, it is also bringing back some very dark memories. One thing I am totally committed to doing - if there is anything else you want to know about what happened - to the extent I can tell you / recall it, I am happy to do so.
I wish you and your family health and happiness and extend my very belated sympathy and condolences for the loss of Iain.
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