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Artefact of the Month

PILOT OFFICER ‘NICK’ BERRYMAN’S FORCED LANDING

On 1 November 1942, Pilot Officer ‘Nick’ Berryman, whilst based at 55 Operational Training Unit, Annan, on the banks of the Solway Firth, was flying a Hawker Hurricane near Glasgow when he noticed his engine temperature rising with a strong smell of glycol in the cockpit. Turning the aircraft on to a direct course for base he radioed for a steer but received no reply. In cloud, he pulled back the cockpit hood, released his Sutton safety harness and turned off the ignition switches. His intention was to bale out but then realised that at 2000 feet over the Scottish mountains it was too late. He concentrated on his instruments and to his relief broke cloud at 900 feet where he saw a road fields and a farmhouse. After selecting a large field he made his approach for a wheels-up forced landing.

He crossed the field’s stone boundary slightly too fast and saw ahead a large mound of earth across his path. Fortunately the aircraft stopped almost immediately on hitting the ground. The Hurricane, not surprisingly was damaged and so was Nick! He had forgotten to re-fasten his safety straps and on landing his face hit the gun sight.

He was taken to the farmhouse he had seen and was cleaned up and given tea. The ambulance eventually arrived and Nick, on leaving, asked about the large mound of earth he had almost hit. He was told by the farmer, “That’s Hadrian’s Wall!”

THIS OIL PAINTING WAS COMMISIONED FROM LOCAL ARTIST TONY SARGEANT IN 1996 AND IS DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S MIDDLE HALL.

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