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Aviation Archaeology - Beaufighter R2065


Bristol Beaufighter Mk1F Serial Number R2065 (Night Fighter)
No. 219 Squadron – RAF Redhill

Squadron: No. 219 Squadron
Operational Details: Night Patrol - London Area
Date of loss: 30th October 1940
Time of incident: approx 2.30 a.m.
Aircraft Type: Bristol Beaufighter IF (Night Fighter)
Aircraft Serial No: R2065
A typical Bristol Beaufighter IF - note the "bow and arrow" style radar transmiter antenna on the nose.
The Blitz on London begins

During the autumn of 1940, as a result of a direct order by Hitler, London was at the height of an onslaught which was being carried out relentlessly by the Luftwaffe. In a desperate effort to break the Morale of the British people, over 20,000 tons of high explosive bombs were unleashed on the city in a terrifying series of raids unlike the World had ever seen before. Over 20,000 people lost their lives in London alone and it seemed that nothing stood in the way of the waves of bombers which returned night after night. Apart from the hundreds of anti aircraft guns, Britain had another vital secret weapon up its sleeve - Radar, during the autumn of 1940 No. 219 Squadron Royal Air Force was deployed to RAF Redhill were it would carry out patrols to seek down the enemy.

30th October 1940 - The last official day of the Battle of Britain

On the night of 30th October 1940 Bristol Beaufighter R2065 from No. 219 Squadron took off from RAF Redhill in Surrey at approx 18.25pm for a routine patrol around the London area. At the controls were P.O. Worsdell originally from Bracknell in Berkshire and his Air Gunner Sgt. Gardiner from Pontefract. The squadron was one of the first squadrons to receive the Mk1 Beaufighter, the radar equipment carried in the nose of the aircraft was considered top secret at the time and would later prove invaluable to the RAF. R2065 was equipped with the MkIV AI (Airborne Interceptor) Radar which was still experimental at the time. RAF Redhill was less than ideal for the Beaufighter with its muddy grass runways and the station was not popular with the air crews. Because of its geographical location and being situated on what was once a marsh, the aerodrome was more often than not shrouded in fog. The runway lighting was primitive to say the least, there were no runway lights, instead the crews relied on two ‘goose neck’ flares, one placed each end of the runway. The weather on the night of the 30th October 1940 was at first clear but quickly worsened to minimum visibility. It was on its return flight that R2065 tragically flew in to Beech trees at high ground near Balcombe in West Sussex, the crew were desperately trying to locate Redhill and were instantly killed when the aircraft erupted into a ball of flame and metal.

The Crew:

P.O. Kenneth Wilson Worsdell – killed on active service, buried at Nutfield Cemetery Surrey. Aged 20 and from Bracknell, Berkshire.

Despite efforts to trace relatives of P.O. Worsdell the museum was unsucessful

Sgt. Eric Cecil Gardiner – killed on active service buried at Pontefract Cemetery. From Pontefract. Aged 27

Sgt. Eric Cecil Gardiner (Air Gunner) on his wedding day in September 1939 when he married Freda Sainter in Pontefract. A year later he was killed along with his pilot P.O. Worsdell after returning to RAF Redhill in bad weather - tragically his Bristol Beaufighter IF R2065 hit trees at Balcombe Place in West Sussex.
Home> Memorial to the crew of R2065>

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