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Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2004
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Source: PRO file AIR20/5411

AIR 20/5411

From: Air Marshal Sir John Slessor, K.C.B., D.S.O., M.C.




CC/8590/25/C.-in-C. 782 28th July, 1943.


My Dear [illegible: Strather?]

Reference our telephone conversation last night, I attach for your provisional information a copy of the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry into the Sikorski accident.

2.     As I told you, I am not satisfied with these proceedings and think that there are a number of vitally important points which have been inadequately explored. The first one, of course, is whether or not the controls were locked. Admittedly the pilot [Edward Prchal] says he eased his stick forward, but he might have been able to do that because there is always a certain amount of slack in these controls, and it does not prove conclusively that they were not Locked in fact, because the elevator lock is right back in the tail. The Engineer Officer at Gibraltar admits that he did not carry out any minute examination to see whether anything had been jammed between the teeth and chain rollers. I think we must go into it again and if possible satisfy ourselves completely as to whether or not there was any obstruction in the elevator control system and consequently whether it can be established beyond question that either the pilot himself or his second pilot unlocked the controls before starting his take-off run.

3.     There are other points which I think must be more closely examined. For instance we have had several cases of dinghies flying out in the air have had. that happen to me myself). On one occasion it wrapped itself around the elevator and put the aircraft into the ground. Again I am not at all satisfied that the arrangements in Air Transport Command for checking in passengers and weighing up the load to make certain that the maximum all-up weight has not been exceeded, are adequate. I don't think in this case there is much chance of it having been due to an over-load, but I think the point must be examined. Further, there is no evidence of what arrangements exist for dinghy drills, provision of Mae Wests for passengers, and so on.

4.     I don't think that there is any question of sabotage though I am not altogether happy about the evidence of the guards from the King's Regiment. For instance one fellow who was acting as sentry admits that another witness got into the aircraft at about 7 o'clock in the morning without being observed.

5.     One of our own Accidents Investigation Officers was a member of the Court, but I think this accident is so important that we must have the more expert advice of one of the Accidents Investigation Branch people. What I have done therefore is as follows


Air Marshal Sir Douglas C.S. Evill, K.C.B., D.S.C., A.F.C.
Air Ministry,
King Charles Street,
[Page 2]

I have told Gibraltar that the Court may have to be re-opened and therefore neither witnesses nor wreckage are to be disposed of without further instructions; we are getting hold of one of Vernon Brown's people to go through the proceedings with us here; if we come to the conclusion that it will be essential to re-open the Court of Inquiry and send them back to Gibraltar (which I think myself it will be) then I shall ask for the Accidents Investigation Branch expert to go with them as a special adviser, and finally, the Polish representative, Wing Commander Dudzinski, will be associated with the proceedings throughout.

6.     I am afraid this will cause a certain amount of delay, but I am sure you will agree that it is necessary to go into the matter much more carefully than has been done up to the present.

Yours [ever
Jack Slessor


Accident book jacketon this website:

 Speculation in The Times, Jul 4, 2003 on who was behind the death of Sikorski | David Irving's reply
"Churchill's War", vol. ii: "Triumph in Adversity": Appendix on death of General Sikorski, the contents of a Harold Wilson file (pdf format)
David Irving: Radical's Diary, Nov 14, 2002
The PQ17 Libel Action, 1970
David Irving, Accident: The Death of General Sikorski
Private account dated July 18, 1945 by General Mason Macfarlane, Governor of Gibraltar, of the night Sikorski was killed
David Irving protests to the Air Ministry, April 1, 1969
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