From The Kent & Sussex Courier

Friday 28 April 1950



Group Captain H. N. G. Ramsbottam-Isherwood, A.F.C., D.F.C., the Commanding officer of West Malling R.A.F. Station was killed when his single seat meteor jet fighter crashed at Five Oak Green, Tonbridge on Monday.

The crash occurred almost without warning at about 11a.m. Low clouds made visibility poor at the time and few people saw the plane. The aircraft crashed near Moat Farm, Five Oak Green, about one mile from the road near a fringe of woodland.


One person who reached the scene of the accident a few minutes after the impact told the 'Courier': "There was absolutely nothing we could do. The plane exploded on hitting the ground and there was just a deep hole, a few small pieces of metal and a faint haze of smoke."

The plane struck a large tree, cutting it in half, and near the tree was a hole about eight feet deep and several feet long.

The only recognisable part of the plane was a crumpled wing tip bearing the R.A.F. roundel. Small pieces of metal, and wood from the tree, were scattered over a wide area.

Group Captain Ramsbottam-Isherwood, who was 45, was best known for his leadership of the R.A.F. Wing in Russia during the war. For his work in this connection he was awarded the Order of Lenin.

The explosion totally destroyed the plane and early in the morning police officials were unable to determine the type of aircraft or its squadron location.

A dead heron was found about 100 yards from the scene of the accident, but it is believed the bird would have been flying too low to have been the cause of the accident.

R.A.F. officers examined the wreckage on Monday in an attempt to determine the cause of the accident. Shortly after the crash, fire brigade units from Tonbridge and Paddock Wood stood by at Five Oak Green, but after a short period returned to their respective stations. Members of the St. John Ambulance from Tonbridge were also present.


Mr. C. Tapp, of Tunbridge Wells, who was passing through the village at the time of the accident said, "Everybody in the street heard the whine of the plane as it approached us. We couldn't see it because of the clouds - and then suddenly its engines seemed to stall. Something flashed out of the clouds and there were two explosions."

Mr Gilbert Sturmer was feeding bullocks at Moat Farm when, "I just happened to glance up and saw a jet plane come out of the clouds and dive straight into the ground. There were two explosions and then a cloud of white smoke. It looked as though the plane was out of control."

Mr. W. Tolhurst, owner of Moat Farm, was at a meeting in Maidstone all the morning and knew nothing of the accident until he was told by a 'Courier' reporter.

Men working a dredger on the River Medway, about a mile from the scene of the crash, heard the aircraft pass nearby and then saw it dive steeply "like lightning" out of the clouds. They also did not know it had crashed - the engine of the dredger must have drowned the explosions they thought.

The inquest on Group Captain Isherwood was held at Tonbridge Fire Station on Wednesday morning and adjourned after evidence of identification had been heard.