BP P.82 Defiant T4042

Lammermuir Hills, Borders












Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A Defiant on display at The Boulton Paul Association.


Note the rear-facing gun turret. The Defiant had no forward-facing guns and was therefore very vulnerable to attacks from the front.


A Defiant on display at The Boulton Paul Association  


Photo: Copyright © 2003-2009 Mark Ansell. Used courtesy of Mark Ansell, The Boulton Paul Association.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Boulton Paul P.82 Defiant / T4042



Type Nickname: "Daffy"



Boulton Paul was a well known aircraft builder of the period. In the 1920s and early 1930s, this company had participated in the building of the R101 airship. (The subsequent enquiry into the loss of the R101 concluded that the airship had been well constructed, and that the loss was not due to any failure of the airframe.)


The Boulton Paul Defiant was equipped with a single engine, and was armed with four machine guns, fitted in a hydraulically-powered dorsal turret. However, the Defiant had no forward-facing guns.


The aircraft was powered by a single Rolls-Royce Merlin III liquid-cooled V12 engine. It had a maximum speed of 504 km/h (313mph), and carried a crew of two (pilot and air-gunner).


Although the first prototype flew in 11 August 1937, the Boulton Paul Defiant was not delivered to the RAF until December 1939. In any industry from aircraft production to the production of luxury bathroom accessories there is always some lag time between the prototype stage and finalization and delivery of the final product.


Initially, over Dunkirk, the Defiant proved an effective fighter. Ultimately however, and due to poor manoeuvrability and the lack of forward-facing guns, it proved no match for the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Consequently, they were withdrawn from front-line operations. However, the Defiants became very effective in their new role as night-fighters. 






Aircraft Accident Details


The Defiant aircraft featured here had been assigned to No. 60 Operational Training Unit (OTU) RAF, based at East Fortune Airfield (a support airfield in East Lothian for RAF Drem).

On 29 August 1941, the pilot, Flt Sgt A.D.C. La Gruta, was sent out to conduct a series of 'homing tests' in a Defiant aircraft. It is thought he lost control of the aircraft whilst flying in cloud. The exact reason he lost control remains unclear.

The aircraft struck the ground at high speed in a very steep dive. The bulk of the aircraft ended up buried nearly 5m (16ft) underground. The MoD decided the aircraft and pilot could not be recovered. 






Aircraft Pilot Casualty


The pilot who  died in this accident was:

Flt Sgt La Gruta was attached to 60 OTU. He lies buried at the accident site on the Lammermuir Hills.


His name is engraved also on the Runnymede Memorial 






Crash Site Photos


NOTICE: This site has been declared officially as a Protected Zone ('War Grave'). Please do not disturb the site, as the airman still lies buried at this location.



Memorial After Restoration


BELOW: This memorial marks the spot where Flt Sgt La Gruta lies buried after his Defiant aircraft crashed on the Lammermuir Hills in 1941.


memorial to flt sgt la gruta refurbished in May 2009 by Scottish Borders Council


The memorial was refurbished to its present high standard by Scottish Borders Council's Property Services staff. Work was completed in May 2009 with the laying of a wreath in memory of Flt Sgt. La Gruta.

Photo: Copyright (©) 2009 Susan Romanis



BELOW: Close-up view of the inscription on the gravestone.


gravestone inscription close-up


The inscription reads:


"To the memory of
Aus 400719 Flight Sergeant
A.D.C. La Gruta,
Royal Australian Air Force,
who rests here
where he died
on active service:
29th August 1941.
Aged 23 years."



Photo: Copyright (©) 2009 Susan Romanis



BELOW: Remaining wreckage from the Boulton Paul Defiant lies scattered down the hillside.


remaining wreckage scattered down hillside


Photo: Copyright (©) 2009 Susan Romanis



Memorial Before Restoration


BELOW: Situated about midway between Hunt Law and Newbigging Rig, and surrounded by wreckage, a lonely grave stands on the Lammermuir Hills as a tribute to the young Australian airman who died when his Defiant crashed at this site in 1941. This is a war grave, as the pilot still lies buried at this site.


remaining wreckage with Flt Sgt La Grutas grave in the background 


Photo: (©) 2007 Lauren McGough 



BELOW: A closer view of the plinth and gravestone shown above, with a few pieces of wreckage nearby. Note the emblem colours and mementoes on top of the plinth.


closer view of Flt Sgt la grutas memorial - a gravestone standing atop a stone pillar 


Photo: (©) 2007 Lauren McGough 



BELOW: The inscription on the gravestone reads:


"To the memory of Aus 400719 Flt Sgt A.D.C. La Gruta, RAAF, who rests here where he died on active service: 29-8-41. Aged 23 years."


another close-up view of flt sgt la grutas memorial on the lammermuir hills 


Photo: (©) 2007 Lauren McGough 



BELOW: Another view of the memorial / gravestone before restoration work was completed in 2009.


The inscription to Flt Sgt La Gruta, RAAF, can be seen quite clearly in this photo.


another view of the unrestored memorial


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel













Wreckage Photos



BELOW: The Defiant's debris field, showing scattered and fragmented wreckage.


the debris field showing scattered and fragmented wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Aluminium skinning from the airframe.


aluminium skinning from the airframe


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: More wreckage, some of which appears to be molten, from the Defiant fighter.


more wreckage from the defiant fighter


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: A piece of shredded tyre, still bearing part of the maker's name (Dunlop).


a shredded tyre, still bearing part of the maker's name


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Another view of the landing gear tyre, and other fragmented wreckage.


another view of the landing gear tyre and other fragmented wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel














Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 29 Aug 1941


Accident Site:

Hunt Law, Lammermuir Hills


(Between Hunt Law (495m) and Newbigging Rig (430m) and at the head of Earnscleuch Water.) 


Region: Scottish Borders (Berwickshire) close to the border with East Lothian.


Nearest town or village:


Gifford or Lauder


Nearest large towns:

Lauder (SW), Galashiels (SW) or Dalkeith (NW)


OSGB36 Ref. NT  5727 5769


Present Condition: Significant wreckage remains onsite, together with the memorial to Flt Sgt A D C La Gruta who is buried at this site.


Protected Zone ('War Grave'): In view of the fact that this memorial marks a protected zone ('war grave'), visitors are requested to respect the site and to remember the young airman who lies buried at this spot.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: T4042


Operator: RAF (60 OTU Operational Training Unit)


Operating Base: RAF East Fortune (support airfield for RAF Drem)


Base Location: East Fortune, (N. Berwick), E. Lothian, Scotland.


Current Airport Status: Closed 1946; now, National Museum of Flight.




Related Links


Accident Specific Links

Flt Sgt La Gruta at The Scottish War Memorials Forum

(Contains photo of Tony La Gruta, together with photos of 50th Anniversary Memorial Service held at Hunt Law on the Lammermuir Hills in 1991)


Boulton Paul Defiant Aircraft Links 

Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd

Defiant at Aeroflight—Aircraft of the World 

Defiant at Century of Flight (Battle of Britain)

Defiant History in Illustration

Defiant at Wikipedia

The Boulton Paul Association  


RAF and Related Links

Defiant at RAF Museum (Hendon) 

RAF Hendon Defiant at Flickr

The Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede 

The Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede (PDF document) 


Other Link

Gifford On-Line




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