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View Full Version : Crash of AAC Lynx AH.7 XZ668 on 20/08/1995



glencoe
20-06-2012, 16:19
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

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glencoe
20-06-2012, 16:20
Memorial Wall at St Nicholas Church, Shepperton. Middx

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I have put this on the Flickr map should anyone wish to learn of it’s exact location

War Memorial in Shepperton, Middx

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Again located on Flickr Map

glencoe
20-06-2012, 16:24
Book Of Remembrance at Middle Wallop – Museum

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(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

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And how XZ668 looked in 2010 when I finally caught up with it.

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Full photos etc can be seen at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29373480@N06/sets/72157630207956456/

PS : Have no idea how to get larger shots posted - sorry !

Richard Flagg
20-06-2012, 23:58
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.

hydealfred
21-06-2012, 10:10
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.

glencoe
21-06-2012, 10:24
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.

SJH
17-09-2012, 08:35
Dear Glencoe

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.

Kind regards,

Simon.

SID434
23-07-2013, 22:16
Just like to comment on this tragic sad sad day. I was serving with 51 Airmobile Squadron Royal Engineers based at Ploce Camp and was part of the initial search and rescue team when the helicopter ditched. Had the grim task of locating and recovering the bodies using boats and RE diving team and then going on to recover the aircraft. Worked closely with the Lynx pilots when I was a recce Sergeant and met some good guys. I will never forget that day, my heart goes out to the families.
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

920292039204920592069207920892099210

canberra
24-07-2013, 07:13
I was in the tower at Ploce when this crash happened.

glencoe
24-07-2013, 10:11
Just like to comment on this tragic sad sad day. I was serving with 51 Airmobile Squadron Royal Engineers based at Ploce Camp and was part of the initial search and rescue team when the helicopter ditched. Had the grim task of locating and recovering the bodies using boats and RE diving team and then going on to recover the aircraft. Worked closely with the Lynx pilots when I was a recce Sergeant and met some good guys. I will never forget that day, my heart goes out to the families.

On behalf of my family, "SID434", I would like to thank you so very much for all you & your colleagues did that day. It could not have been easy and what you saw below the water surface could not have been easy to deal with. However, your professionalism & gentleness was captured on TV by the media covering the story & it is part of the awful family tragedy that we will never forget. My admiration & grateful thanks to you, your team & all involved in recovering my brother & his colleagues on that day.

glencoe
24-07-2013, 10:12
"Canberra", the same goes to you & your team for your actions that day too. Again, I am sure it could not have been easy knowing an aircraft had gone down on your watch, but as you know it was a tragic accident. My family also send their deepest regards to you and your team.

Panther
29-08-2013, 11:44
Dear Glencoe,

I was browsing this forum and came across your thread. It brings back many memories.....it was an awful day. I was the squadron boss of 653 Sqn AAC and was at the time of the crash was RHS in lynx ZG889 one of the mk9 version we were flying. My copilot was Sgt SAMs. We heard andrew mills calling on the net (the Gazelle pilot) and at once went to the scene. I could see nothing. A little fishing boat seemed to be picking up someone so I sent a SITREP back to Brigade in Ploce and requested that the RE scramble a diving team ( I had been a RE Diver before joining the AAC). I elected to land on the foreshore and kept rotors running. I got out and ran down to the boat which was approaching a small jetty. The skipper helped out a crewman (Airtpr Brain) who was naturally in total shock. I remember looking in the boat and could see it was empty. At that moment my stomach churned.

I then recall asking Atpr Brain what had happened but he was going into shock so I wrapped him up in my arms and carried him back to my helicopter. Sgt SAMs had kept the engines running and we got airborne at once back to Ploce where we were met by the medics, the CO Lt Col Greenhalgh, and the 24 Bde COMD Brigadier Brims. It was desperate, desperate situation and I remember seeing the diving team already preparing to get airborne. It was only at that moment that I was told that the skipper of the helicopter was Martin Osborne and that your brother was his copilot. I am so terribly sorry that I could not rescue them, I will never forget those few awful hours as the reality of what had happened sank in. But for you it must have been so much worse. Incidentally the media back in the UK reported the crash and put a mk9 lynx up which my squadrons dependants saw before any news came to them.
The next day I flew those gallant lads up to Split leading in a pair of Mk 9 lynx. I flew ZG888. We covered all of them with the Union Flag.
Later on in the tour we launched the wayfarer dinghy that I had managed to smuggle out from Wattisham with the rest of our kit. Martin and I were planning to do some sailing when things had slowed down a bit. It was not to be and I can tell you there were a few tears on board as we headed north towards a little fishing village where my Sergeant Major Mr Peters had set up an R and R base for the Regiment.
Im sorry this is all a bit clumsy and may I offer you my deepest condolences even now, but I hope with the passing of time the pain of your loss will recede.

With very best wishes

Anthony

glencoe
29-08-2013, 12:56
Anthony

Thank you ! Please don't blame yourself "I am so terribly sorry that I could not rescue them" - no one could. I have learnt over the years of what went wrong in the accident, seen Iain's Lynx in it's damaged state and have been so very very moved in all that have written on this topic, or those that have contacted me over the years about 20th August 1995.

I am so deeply in all your debt but cannot think of a way to repay what you all did on that day.

I have, however, set a up a "Tribute" page to my "baby bruv" which can be viewed at :-

http://banterops.smugmug.com/Other/Tribute-To-Corporal-Iain-David

I hope that you, Simon & Sid434 and other members will take a butchers.

Thanks a million again for all you have done & for posting your entry on this forum. It just continues to paint a picture of the day & the respect my family has for all those involves, continues to grow.

Doug

Paul Francis
29-08-2013, 17:30
Wow! Very moving, thank you everyone for posting and contributing to this tragic story on here and to see the actual aircraft as well, I am lost for words.

Paul

Bigbear
30-08-2013, 12:44
When reading this thread I felt like I was trespassing on a deeply personal discussion. It had me in tears. Thank you for sharing this highly moving account and comments from those of you that were involved at the time. Although many of these types of incident are recorded, I have never before read such emotionally charged accounts from those involved. I am humbled.

Alexlynn
17-09-2013, 09:21
I have just found this information and my heart has sank. Mac was my best mate at school in Shepperton and when he became a junior soldier at 16 and joined the AAC, I ended up joining the Police a few years later.

I still remember the day, I got the phone call from his Mum Jo Macdonald telling me he had been killed. It was the first time that I ever had to grieve for a friend and it was a very emotional time. Mind you the bloody green frogs everywhere made us all laugh.

The funeral was so emotional and I recall that Lynx flying over at the relevant time. Nobody ever knew if that was Macs mate, but I think it was!

Thank you for sharing these photos it has brought back some sad and happy memories of Mac, when we were growing up as young tearaways in Shepperton. He was fine man and a credit to Derek and Jo.


All the best

glencoe
14-02-2014, 10:39
I now have a tribute page available and also photos of the wreck of XZ668 that I found was just on my doorstep having spent a number of years looking for it

Tribute : http://banterops.smugmug.com/Other/Tribute-To-Corporal-Iain-David/


Wreck : http://banterops.smugmug.com/Other/Cranfield-6th-August-2010/