The Ketton Defiant

On 4th March 1941 Flight Officer Gordon-Dean and Sgt George Worledge took off in Boulton Paul Defiant N1794, the purpose of the flight was to give Sergeant Worledge more air experience in the Defiant.

Defiant Exhibition

A short while into the flight they got into difficulties, losing a wing covering. The aircraft was seen emerging from cloud in a high speed dive with parts falling from it, crashing near Ketton, Rutland at 1540 hours, sadly killing both crew members.

Boulton Paul Defiant N1794 was built at the Boulton Paul Wolverhampton Works, delivered to 151 Squadron 21/12/1940. It was written off in the accident after completing just 31 hours, 41 minutes flying time.

F/O Peter Gordon-Dean, son of Air Commodore, H Gordon-Dean AFC and Helen Gordon-Dean was laid to rest at Winslow St Lawrence Churchyard, Buckinghamshire - Age 21.

Sgt George Edward Worledge, son of John Rossitter Worledge and Edith Worledge, Husband of Winifred Worledge of Twickenham was laid to rest at Twickenham Parochial Cemetery - Age 26.

Sgt George Edward Worledge

George Worledge was a volunteer reserve who joined the RAF 23/08/1939. He did his initial training at Blackpool before being sent to No. 4 Bomber and Gunnery School in Canada. On returning to Britain he joined 151 Night Fighter Squadron at RAF Wittering, Northamptonshire, now Cambridgeshire on 04/01/1944.

After documents were found by Museum members at the Public Record Office, Kew, London and the RAF Museum, Hendon, relating to the accident, it was decided to trace the location of the crash site.

We visited Ketton, Rutland and after talking to local residents we were able to identify the area where the aircraft came down. The land was owned by Castle Cement, who we contacted to arrange to inspect the site to ascertain what remains were left of N1794 using a White's deep penetration metal detector. Small remains were found on the surface and significant readings were produced from our scanner. All the relative information was sent to the Ministry Of Defence to enable us to apply for a licence under the Military Remains Act, so we could carry out an archaeological dig. The licence application was successful and with permission from Castle Cement this was carried out in September 2006 and the results became part of the Defiant exhibition opened on 5th September 2009 by Mrs Lilian Sproson, George Worledge's niece.

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Boulton-Paul Defiant

Defiant profile courtesy Emoscopes

The Defiant was designed as a bomber-destroying fighter aircraft, powered by a single Merlin engine with its only armament being the four .303 Browning machine guns mounted in a turret behind the pilot. Intended to be used against unescorted bomber formations, after initial success against both bombers and fighters of the Luftwaffe in WWII, German fighter pilots soon realised that getting behind a Defiant was a recipe for getting yourself shot down and changed tactics. The result was a mauling for the unlucky Defiant crews, and the type was relegated to night fighter and second line duties leaving Hurricanes and Spitfires to take on the enemy's fighters and bombers during the day.