On the 27th March 1945 F/O Robert Bellis (RCAF) was attached to 56 Operational Training Unit (OTU) flying out of RAF Milfield in Northumberland. Whilst on a training flight in the Muirkirk area, Scotland, the weather closed in, reducing the visibility considerably. Shortly afterwards whilst passing through the valley that Stony Hill flanked Hawker Typhoon MN532 flew into the South Eastern edge. F/O Bellis could not have survived the high speed crash however, it wasn’t until the 30th March 1945 that MN532 was found.
F/O Bellis and the larger remains of his aircraft were recovered by the RAF Repair and Salvage unit at the time, with F/O Bellis laid to rest in Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate on the 3rd April 1945.
F/O Robert Bellis was just 20 years old when he was lost in MN532 and almost 71 years to the day, our team completed a recovery of the remains from crash site.
The Sabre Engine had already been recovered and is on display in the Dumfries Aviation Museum however, there were quite a few unique items remaining. The items collected will be invaluable for reverse engineering areas of the airframe where drawings do not exist, enabling us to rebuild RB396 and honour the crews.
Robert in will be remembered at RB’s final home, along with other pilots whose aircraft helped to return RB to the air. Some of the aircraft was left on site to mark where Robert and MN532 were lost and the team intend to return with a permanent and appropriate marker as a sign of respect.
More photos from the recovery of MN532 can be viewed in the Gallery by clicking here.
In early 2017 we were contacted by the Great Niece of F/O Bellis who was kind enough to send over some additional photos of Robert.