One of the constant issues to haunt the participants of the Second World War in the air was that of non-combat accidents.
One heartbreaking example that has always stood out for me are the deaths of Free French Air Force pilot Pierrot Degail and Acting Flight Lieutenant Douglas Walker of the Royal Air Force, seventy years ago on December 14th 1942.
Whilst on a training mission, Degail’s Supermarine Spitfire crashed on Cadair Berwyn, a mountain in North Wales. Walker was sent to search for Degail in a Westland Lysander, and crashed a few hundred yards from the Spitfire. Both pilots perished near their aircraft. (via)
“…One of our Belgian comrades’ Spitfires exploded in mid-air during an aerobatics practice. Two of our R.A.F. friends came into collision and were killed before our eyes. Then Pierrot Degail, one of the six Frenchman on the course, crashed one misty evening into an ice-covered hill-top. It took two days to reach the debris through the snow. His body was found in a kneeling position, his head in his arms, like a sleeping child, by the side of his Spitfire. Both his legs were broken and, unable to move, he must have died of cold during the night.”