Air crash dead to be remembered on 75th anniversary

Re-enactment: The Halifax bomber and air crew reenacted by The RAF At War group.
Re-enactment: The Halifax bomber and air crew reenacted by The RAF At War group.

A project has been launched to commemorate those killed in a war-time aeroplane crash in 1943.

This year will see the 75th anniversary of the disaster involving the Halifax Bomber at Darrington which killed all six crew members and four villagers.

A Handley Page Halifax MkIII bomber, similar to the one which crashed near Legden in Germany killing Wigan soldier Sgt William Walmsley

A Handley Page Halifax MkIII bomber, similar to the one which crashed near Legden in Germany killing Wigan soldier Sgt William Walmsley

What should have been a routine training exercise turned to disaster when the plane fell out of the sky late at night and slammed into a number of cottages.

Now a group of parish councillors are leading the project to organise a day of commemorative events later this year, including the unveiling of a plaque and possibly a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which includes Spitfires and Hurricanes.

Coun Andy Tagger admitted the councillors were somewhat embarrassed when details of the crash were brought to their attention by local keen historian, David Hepworth.

Coun Tagger said: “Nothing happened for the 50th anniversary so when we found out about the details of the crash from David we approved this as a parish council project.

PROJECT: The group researching the Darrington WWII air crash in which a Halifax Bomber hit the village. Pictured are Dave Hepworth, Andy Tagger, David Jones, Dennis Burns, Jeff Pickering, Judith Fisher

PROJECT: The group researching the Darrington WWII air crash in which a Halifax Bomber hit the village. Pictured are Dave Hepworth, Andy Tagger, David Jones, Dennis Burns, Jeff Pickering, Judith Fisher

“People knew there had been a crash but this needs commemorating, this is part of our history and so many people were touched by the war.

“This was a major way in which the village was touched.

“We’ve been planning this for well over a year now and thought if we’re going to do this we need to make it worthwhile.

“We’re hoping to do the best we can, and so far it’s going very well and we’re increasingly getting more and more information.”

The team has been busy contacting families of the crew members, some of which are as far away as Scotland, to invite them to a special ceremony at Chapel Hill in the village, close to the crash site off Valley Road.

A permanent plaque will be unveiled, complete with a QR code so people can scan it with their mobile phones to learn more about the crash.

In the afternoon a free ticket-only event will be held for 300 people at Darrington Golf Club where all the information gathered in will og on display.

They are also hoping to secure the flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Coun Tagger says the group are still looking for more information, particularly stories from the aftermath of the crash.

He said: “We want anyone who has any snippets of information, stories their parents told them, anything at all.”

“We have got the facts of the crash, it’s those little stories that we need of what happened afterwards.

“We’ve even heard that perspex left over from the plane was turned into toys by some of the children - it’s these kind of stories we want.”

The event is planned to take place on Saturday, September 22.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Andy Tagger on 01977 704681 or www.facebook.com/groups/darringtonaircrash

Pilot - Sgt Edward George Wilson of London.

Navigator - Sgt John Arthur Crudgington, aged 20, of Beckenham.

Bomb Aimer - F/O David Beeley, aged 23, of Rotherham.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner - Sgt Edward Cook, aged 20, of Sunderland.

Flight Engineer - Sgt Thomas Glyn Roberts, aged 30, of Heswell.

Air Gunner - Sgt Thomas Clelland, aged 19, of Dysart.

Civilian - Mabel Una Dean, aged 66, of Glencoe House, Darrington,

Civilian - Harry Dean, aged 68, of Glencoe House, Darrington.

Civilian - William Dean, aged 33, of Glencoe House, Darrington.

Civilian - Ellen Mary Dean, aged 36, of Glencoe House, Darrington.