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Author Topic: Lieutenant (A) George Frakman  (Read 149 times)
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Craggs
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« on: October 12, 2017, 07:41:18 AM »

George Frakman
(A) Lieutenant
Royal Navy  : HMS Illustrious - Fleet Air Arm, 778 Squadron

Died on the 20th June 1947  aged 22 years.

Buried in the CWGC section of the churchyard of St. Mary at Clymping, Sussex

Son of George and Sophie Frakman, of Warwick.
______________________________________

At the time of his death Lieutenant George Frakman was serving with  778 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, which was aboard HMS Illustrious.  Towards the end of WWII, HMS Illustrious was in action in the Pacific theatre of war.  She sustained heavy structural damage as a result of a Japanese suicide bomber attack and was withdrawn for repairs.  Temporary repairs were carried out in the Philippines and then she sailed for Sydney and then Rosyth in Scotland for full repairs.  Before her repairs were completed the war came to an end and it was decided by the Admiralty that Illustrious would become the Royal Navy's principle training aircraft carrier.  She remained in home waters off Scotland for this purpose.

I can only find brief references to Lieutenant Frakman's death.  The Naval History Net website shows :

Friday, 20 June 1947
FAA, 778 Sqn, Illustrious, air crash
FRAKMAN, George, Lieutenant (A), killed

In the 'Summer 1999' issue of the publication "The Fleet Air Arm Association"  (page 20)  there is a short passage from retired Aviation Technician Don Bailey who did the daily inspection and service for Lieutenant Frakman's Barracuda at RNAS Ford with 778 Squadron.  On one occasion Lt Frakman took him up for a ride in the aircraft !  Some time later, after they no longer worked together,  Don Bailey heard that Lieutenant Frackman had been killed in a Sea Fury accident. The link to the full article in that publication is :

Fleet Air Arm Association - Summer 1999   - scroll down to page 20, the article is titled "First Flight".

That's all I have been able to find out for now.  If anyone else can help with further details I would be grateful.

Attached is a photograph of Lieutenant Frakman's headstone in the CWGC section at St Mary's at Clymping, which is about a mile from RNAS Ford.
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John
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 08:16:10 AM »

Bognor Regis Observer - Saturday 28 June 1947

R.N. PILOT KILLED AT SLINDON

INQUEST AT FORD


Although an aircraft passed over the Naval Air Station at Ford four minutes after a "recall" radio message had been sent out, as bad weather had developed, on Friday morning, no attempt was made to land, probably because of poor visibility. Later an aircraft was reported to have crashed at Slindon whilst ¾ mile from it the body of Lieut. George Frankman (sic), R.N. (22), the pilot of the aircraft (a "Sea-Fury") was found dead with multiple injuries. His parachute was out of its cover but unopened.

These facts were revealed at an inquest held at the air station on Monday, by Mr. H. S. Falconer, deputy coroner, who sat with a jury. Mr. C. B. Tompkins represented the Admiralty.

After evidence of deceased's injuries had been given by Surg. Lieut. Cleave-Sheen, R.N., Lieut. Cmdr. Tom E. Gray stated that Lieut. Frankman had been attached to the station for two months, and was an expert pilot.

On Friday at 8.8 a.m., he took off alone in a "Sea Fury" in what was then suitable weather. Half an hour later, however, the weather got worse and all aircraft were recalled by wireless. The deceased received the message as he answered, as required, and asked why he was recalled. No message was received from him after this, though continuous radio efforts to contact him were made.

Witness thought that an aircraft which passed over four minutes later was, by the sound, the aircraft piloted by Lieut. Frankman. He could not see it as it was in cloud. At 10.30 a.m. he received a message that an aircraft had crashed at Slindon.

In reply to the coroner, witness stated that the weather was very bad from a flying point of view, particularly visibility, which varied from 1,000 to 2,000 yards maximum. Landing instructions would be issued after the recall. In this case, instructions would have been given to land at another ground, but radio contact could not be made.

Police Sergt. Bristowe gave evidence of the body being located by the observer of a helicopter. He (witness) went to North Wood, Slindon, and there found the body of the pilot, approximately ¾ mile from the crashed aircraft. Lieut. Frankman was wearing a life-saving jacket and parachute harness with parachute attached. The latter was out of its pack but was not itself open.

A verdict of "accidental death" was returned, the cause of death being the multiple injuries received in the crash.



Chichester Observer - Saturday 28 June 1947

FATAL PARACHUTE JUMP

Selsey and Shoreham lifeboats were out searching the Channel for three hours, on June 20, when it was thought that the pilot of a single-seater fighter, which crashed on Nore Hill, near Eartham, had bailed out in the sea. The fighter took off from Ford Aerodrome, and the body of Flt. Lieut. G. Frankman (sic)(22), a Canadian (?) was found about a mile from the scene of the crash, at North Wood, by a helicopter. A partly opened parachute led to the discovery of the pilot, and after the helicopter had landed and left its co-pilot, it returned to Ford Aerodrome for the Station M.O.  Flt. Lt. Frankman was killed. 
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Craggs
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 08:20:16 AM »

Thank you John,

I did try some different spellings of his name whilst searching in the newspaper archives - but not with an 'n'.

I'm grateful - now I know what happened

noel
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John
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 08:24:56 AM »

I had one of the newspaper reports already typed out, but was baffled when I couldn't find "Frankman" buried anywhere. I didn't think of varying the spelling by losing the first "n", because that didn't seem to be a valid surname. And the CWGC search 'wildcard' function wasn't working at the time either. Now I know better!
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 08:47:39 AM »

I wonder if this is the same chap? A file at the National Archives..

Reference:   HO 334/248/FZ142
Description:   Naturalisation Certificate: George Frakman. From France. Serving in His Majesty’s Forces. Certificate FZ142 issued 4 June 1946.
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TrevC
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2017, 08:25:59 AM »

In a rather spooky coincidence, I came across this thread yesterday evening whilst researching a crash site on Nore Hill, having spent a few hours combing the area (with an old friend who visited the site 35 years ago) for clues to the which aircraft was involved. He had been given a large fragment by one of our old schoolmasters from Chichester High Scool about 40 years ago, said to be from a Firebrand (a type also based at Ford) crash on Nore Hill.

I can now confirm the aircraft involved was indeed a Sea Fury (from the small amount of debris still remaining, small fragments of which are still visible lying on the ground, if you look carefully) and without doubt the one which Lieutenant Frakman attempted to bale out of on that fateful day.

As well as the debris, we also came across a pair of modern reading glasses placed on a tree stump. They have been there a while, but I would say months, not years. It seems we were not alone in investigating this site, as it is off the known footpath and tracks on the hill.
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Craggs
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2017, 08:35:29 AM »

Hello TrevC and a warm welcome to the Forum,

Thank you for your post - very interesting to learn that there are still fragments of the aircraft at the crash site.  I also think that it is great that yourself (and others) are researching what happened at the crash site and I hope that what we have posted here on the Forum helps in some way.

If you would consider sharing your research results, or any other details, then please do post them - that would be excellent.  This all goes into painting a much bigger and much more accurate picture of what happened.

Thanks again

Noel
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TrevC
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2017, 10:08:50 AM »

Thank you Noel, we would be happy to share anything related to this (or any other) site we intend to research or investigate in the future.

This project is something we are taking up again after a break of 40 years, to try and solve any uninvestigated crash sites in West Sussex. It started when we were teenage Air Training Corps cadets and many of the artefacts uncovered then found there way into the early exhibits of a well known aviation museum.

Now, approaching retirement (or being retired already) we have met up again, as we are know working as volunteers for that museum. I should say, this is a purely private thing and is not connected with the museum in any way.

Between us, we have a lifetime of experience in aviation and aviation history, so in conjunction with the internet, (in the 70's we spent hours in the loft of the local newspaper, trawling 1940's editions by hand) which enabled me to tie up this one in a couple of hours, it is a good time to fill in the gaps locally.

As far as the Frakman site is concerned, the impact was at very high speed and possibly vertical.

This is typical of an abandoned aircraft crash. I suspect he became disoriented in cloud and decided to bale out (possibly aware of the proximity of the South Downs) of the aircraft. As to why he failed to deploy his parachute, I'm afraid we will never know. However, it was not uncommon for someone to be knocked unconscious when exiting an aircraft such as this. Striking ones head on the tailplane being the most common.
We also suspect also that the largest parts of the wreckage were removed at the time, there was a secondary debris field adjacent to a forestry track, some 50 metres away from the main impact area. This smaller site may well have been caused by people loading a truck.

The main site has debris from the engine (with parts identifiable from a Bristol Centauraus) and cockpit area. These are severely distorted and unsurprisingly quite corroded although there is no evidence of extensive fire damage. Very few trees there are old enough to have been there in 1947, but a contemporary OS map shows the tree line to be almost identical. Of note in your clipping is the fact a helicopter was used to search the area, this is unusual as helicopters were very much experimental in service use then. I'll do a little more research on this aspect of the incident and post again.

We intend to visit the grave at Ford soon, possibly in conjunction with Remembrance Day commemorations next month.



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TrevC
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2017, 12:51:49 PM »

Further to my last comment on the use helicopter in the Lieutenant Frakman incident, it could only be a Sikorsky R-4 Hoverfly, the first in service with the FAA and only a two seater. This being a weight restriction, the aircraft being very underpowered.

This explains the co-pilot/observer being left with pilot's body, whilst the aircraft departed back to Ford for the naval surgeon to certify the deceased. This aircraft was probably with 705 Sqn which was in the process of moving to Gosport that month. It was mixed trials unit, so records are not black and white on this, however Gosport and Ford are both within 15 minutes flying of the crash site. To give some idea of how new this was, this unit had made the first aircraft carrier landing using a helicopter just a few months earlier.

The Sea Fury itself was almost certainly a F10, the early fighter version as 778 was again a trials unit, the first operational Sea Fury F10 unit not forming until August 1947. Part of these trials were to fine tune deck landings with this new type of aircraft. However, I would imagine, back in those heady days, a pilot on that unit could just take up an aircraft on the unit's strength for some flying, possibly explaining the fact he was described as being a Fairey Barracuda pilot on 778 and possibly his inexperience with the new aircraft just might have been a contributing factor in the accident.
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TrevC
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2017, 14:22:08 PM »



I can't find an icon to post photos (possibly have to make a certain number of posts, but can't find that info) so at present I cannot upload any images to this topic.
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John
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2017, 16:21:45 PM »

Have a look at this topic for a step-by-step guide on posting photographs:

How to post pictures
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Craggs
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2018, 21:15:29 PM »

I wonder if this is the same chap? A file at the National Archives..

Reference:   HO 334/248/FZ142
Description:   Naturalisation Certificate: George Frakman. From France. Serving in His Majesty’s Forces. Certificate FZ142 issued 4 June 1946.

Well done John,  spot on again.  Here is his 'Naturalisation Certificate' - No. FZ142.  He was born on the 30th March 1925 in Paris.  I was briefly at the NA today and took the opportunity to look up the file reference HO 34/248 and photograph the certificate.

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