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Investigation 2010

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During the briefing, the RAF Meteorological Office had misjudged the strength and direction of the wind on the route of the raid. Thus, the bombers overtook the depression on the European continent and they had to deal with a low ceiling, relatively violent storms and especially Ice. Note that the presence of ice was not uncommon but still quite unusual in the middle of July.

As they approached the region between Dijon and Belfort, the trouble began for our crew: strong turbulence caused by storms shook the airplane, with cloud tops raised to the point that the navigator could no longer use the stars to do his job.

Without external visual reference to landmarks, Jepps made his navigation with a map and a stopwatch, as it was based on erroneous prognostic winds advised during the briefing, he did not know he had been pushed much further north than expected.

At the same time, the pilot, Horace Badge, and the flight engineer, Robert Wood, discovered the presence of ice: the ASI and the altimeter had failed. The situation became critical as they were soon to cross the barrier of the Alps, this situation forced them to lose altitude into the warmer layers of air in a desperate effort to escape the icing conditions and regain use of their instruments.

Arriving at the Swiss border, they saw the tip of a lake (Neuchâtel) which they identified as the tip of Lake Geneva. Thus, the crew found that they had to be in the region of the main crossing point under the flight plan - Lake Annecy. However, as time passed, no trace of it ! At that time, they decided to retrace their steps to find this lake, the last landmark before the goal.

Then, they did a wide right turn into the Rhone valley and began their slow descent. Once the ground in sight, they took the reciprocal heading to a lake they identified incorrectly as Lake Annecy, veering southwest to 145 ° heading. However, as Lake of Geneva is much broader than Lake of Annecy, they were made of a doubt and decided to launch a flare to identify the territory under their aircraft.

Lost in this storm, in total darkness, certainly still without essential flight instruments and under the pressure generated by the emergency, all elements were gathered for the crew to suffer spatial disorientation. And so, they did not see the mass of Mont Grammont facing them they collided head-on, more than 1,000 meters below the summit.

Ultimately, it appears that Badge and his crew had indeed decided to go through with their mission. Thus, they showed exceptional coolness retaining their full load of bombs, struggling against the elements. Unfortunately, Fate had other plans.

Christine Dashwood, niece of Horace Badge tells:

"on his last home leave, he made the effort of calling on everyone he knew, as if to make the point that he might not come back."

"May the earth of our country be soft and light to them
and let, on their graves, the wind of heaven brings them memories of their distant homeland. "

Jean Broccard, Le Confédéré, 16 juillet 1943

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