Accident Avro Anson Mk I L9149, Tuesday 17 January 1939
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Date:Tuesday 17 January 1939
Type:Silhouette image of generic ANSN model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Avro Anson Mk I
Owner/operator:9 E&RFTS RAF
Registration: L9149
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Fan Brycheiniog, near Ystradgynlais, 20 km northeast of Swansea, Wales -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Ansty, Coventry, Warwickshire
Destination airport:Cardiff, South Glamorgan
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Avro Anson I L9149, 9 E&RFTS, RAF Ansty, Coventry: Written off (destroyed) 17/01/39 when crashed into the south side of the mountainside at Fan Brycheiniog, near Ystradgynlais, 20 km north east of Swansea. The plan had been to fly to Coventry via Cardiff, but the aircraft ran into thick cloud and rain and lost radio contact. Two of the four crew were killed:

Flying Officer Ernest Ronald Henshaw Coombes (aged 35) died 18.1.39 (next day) of injuries sustained
L/AC Alban Dennis Mabbett (aged 18) killed
L/AC John Murdo Macleod Macdonald unhurt
Mr Leslie Arnold Priscott (W/op - civilian) unhurt

Leslie Prescott went for help and raised the alarm at Tir-y-Cwm farm. The rescue party searched all night, but did not locate the plane until 6 am the next day, by which time Mabbot had died from his injuries and exposure. MacDonald was able to walk down after receiving first aid. Combes was carried down in a parachute and transported to Swansea hospital, but died soon after. A plaque was erected in Callwen Churchyard by the Company to commemorate the crewmen who lost their lives and the local people who undertook the rescue in appalling weather conditions.

According to the official Air Ministry announcement in "Flight" magazine (January 26, 1939 page 87 - see link #3)

F/O Ernest Ronald Henshaw Coombes (pilot) and L.A/C. Alban Dennis Mabbett lost their lives as the result of an accident which occurred at Ystradgynlais Wales, on January 17, to an aircraft of No. 9 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School, Ansty, Coventry. Mr. Leslie Arnold Priscott (wireless operator) and L.A/C. John Murdo Macleod Macdonald, the other two occupants, were not injured".

There is a memorial stone and plaque in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist, Church-in-Wales church, Callwen, erected by the Southampton Training Aviation Company for the men of the village who risked their lives searching for the aircraft, after it was lost on the mountain.

Originally there were 2 plaques, erected in the 1940s, one in Cwmgiedd and one by The Gwynn Arms. After the one in Cwmgiedd was vandalised, the county council moved the one by The Gwynn Arms to the churchyard of Callwen St John The Baptist church.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1933 page 104)
2. Brecon Beacons National Park, 1995, Identification Guide Aircraft Crashes in the National Park, ID 2
3. Doylerush, E, 2008, Rocks in the Clouds: High Ground Aircraft Crashes in South Wales, pages 17, 106 and 111
4. Durham P and Jones, D, 1982, Warplane Wrecks of South Wales and the Marches, pages 9-10

Revision history:

22-Mar-2018 22:48 Dr. John Smith Added
20-Nov-2018 16:18 Nepa Updated [Operator, Nature, Operator]
31-May-2024 21:01 Nepa Updated [Location, Operator]

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