Actress Kristin Scott Thomas & Sea Vixen crash 17 March 1966
Bit of a long shot this, but... The actress Kristin Scott Thomas's father was tragically killed along with his Observer on the 17th Mar 1966 in a Sea Vixen crash off Portland - serial number XS 581. Details are below:
Thursday, 17 March 1966 Heron, air crash at Portland Bill, Dorset CATON, David H, Naval Airman 1c, F 945065, died HARVEY, John W, Lieutenant THOMAS, Simon Scott, Lieutenant Commander
The thing is, the Sea Vixen as you know in only a twin-seater, therefore I'm intrigued as to why a Naval airman (Rating) was also a casualty of this crash? Perhaps the crew ejected and he went to their rescue only to drown himself?
Sadly, Kristin's mother later married Lt Cdr Simon Idiens (of Simon's Sircus fame) who was later killed after ejecting from a Phantom in Jan 1972.
XS581 crashed whilst carrying out a night Glow Worm attack with HMS Zulu 10 miles south west of Portland Bill. Sadly this method of attack claimed the lives of many Vixen crews who failed to pull out of the 450 kt dive at the planned 500ft and flew into the sea without ejecting.
If there had been a helicopter SAR sortie then this would almost certainly have been dispatched from the Naval Air Station at Portland, just 10 miles from the accident, not Yeovilton where both the Vixen and NAM1 Caton were based. It's possible that the 17 March 1966 date is a coincidence and that Caton died in another accident such as a non aviation one, perhaps a road accident.
Whilst both aircrew names are included on the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, NAM1 Caton's name is not. As the memorial lists the names of "those servicemen and women who have given their lives while on duty and those killed by terrorist action", his omission from the memorial leads me to conclude that he did not die whilst on duty.
Last edited by Speechless Two; 8th Jun 2009 at 23:23.
Also puzzled by the reference to NAM Caton. I was the Observer in another Vixen in company with Lt Cdr Idiens and Lt Harvey. We were practicing Night Attacks over Lyme Bay as part of the Operational Work Up for 893 Squadron, which was due to embark in Victorious for a spell of Far East and Pacific duty. Sadly XS581 did not recover from one manoeuvre so we returned to Yeovilto unaccompanied. I was flyng with my regular pilot,Lt Chris Hunneyball, as we had been a crew on a previous Vixen Outfit earlier. Some six months later Chris and I had to eject from the aircraft we flew that night over Lyme Bay, XS586, when we lost an engine on take off from the Victorious - we were operating about 50 miles south of the Island of Gan in the Indian Ocean. To this day we both struggle with back aches and pains but we survived a very close all.
Looks like it is a small typing error Re CATON, David H, Naval Airman 1c, F 945065, died . I suspect he could have been killed in a RTA whilst stationed at HMS Osprey or HMS Heron ?? and the Sea Vixen crew are of course from HMS Heron. We also lost a couple of lads at Hms Fulmar to RTAs on weekend leaves, Travelling to and from home claimed many lives at other airstations too in the 60/70s
Last edited by david parry; 27th Apr 2011 at 11:42.
i am married to Katy John's daughter. I would be grateful for any more information picture's etc that you may have. We have some photo's passed on to us when katy's mum died but we dont know who the people are in them. I take it the number (382) on the nose of the plane is the call sign? i have been getting this muddled with the registration XS581. The other problem i have is that every thing we have seems to relate to John being in 890 sqn but from what i can gather when the plane was lost he was in 893 sqn.
I think you will find there is no direct connection between the serial number of the aircraft (XS581) and the number painted on the nose (382).
The serial number is allocated at the time of the aircraft being ordered and it remains with it throughout its life.
The 'fleet number' (382), for want of a better title, is related to the unit and location and can be changed if - say - an aircraft on 'X' Sqn operating off carrier 'Y' is subsequently sent somewhere else, perhaps one of the training sqns.
I'm sure a jolly Tar will explain it better than a 'Crab' but that's the essence.
The other problem i have is that every thing we have seems to relate to John being in 890 sqn but from what i can gather when the plane was lost he was in 893 sqn.
There's a lot of detail about Sea Vixen squadrons in Tony Buttler's book*. It shows Lt JW Harvey on 890 Sqn from 17/12/1961 to 20/10/1963. He subsequently appears to have joined 893 Sqn when it reformed on 4 November 1965. XS581 arrived on 893 Sqn on the 10 November 1965, but is stated as having a nose number (or side number in naval parlance) of "241", and not 382. Hope this helps.
We have some photo's passed on to us when katy's mum died but we dont know who the people are in them.
David - may I suggest you contact the Fleet Air Arm Officers' Association at email@example.com or phone them on 020-7930-7722 as many of the members are former Sea Vixen aircrew. If your photos are of aircrew the webmaster (an ex-Sea Vixen Observer himself) may be able to post them on the Association's website so that the people in them could be identified.
Last edited by CharlieOneSix; 17th Aug 2011 at 16:57.
I did the Sea Venom AWF Course with John at Yeovilton in the first part of 1960. We had the same birthday. If you pm me, me and my then Looker (who remembers more than I do) should be able to muster some help with the details you seek. 382 should be an 831 Squadron "side number." LFH
Hi, Hopefully I am speaking to Bill Hart who ejected along with Chris Hunneyball from there Vixen on the 5th Aug 1966 of the Vic. The fact is I was your Safety Equipment killick and packed your chutes which thankfully opened. I have the video of the ejection. Yours aye,
L/A SE2 Gordon"Pixie"Parkes(well retired and living in Cornwall