In Remembrance of Five Brave Airmen of WW2
On Thursday 14 October 1943 an Avro Anson aircraft (R9780) took off on a training flight from RAF Millom, Cumberland. At Whitehaven, about 30 miles to the north, the plane suffered structural failure leading to a crash and the loss of all five aircrew. It was subsequently found that there was an inherent defect in the structure, which would have been undetectable beforehand, and all similar aircraft were grounded for a time until reinforcement work was carried out to prevent a recurrence.
By coincidence, Thursday 14 October 1943 was ‘Wings For Victory’ Day in Whitehaven, when Squadron Leader David M. Crook DFC – a Spitfire ‘Ace’ of the Battle of Britain handed over a plaque to the townsfolk in recognition of the Whitehaven exceeding its target to buy two Lancaster bombers. Immediately after the crash, Squadron Leader Crook and Mr John Roger Williams of ‘The Whitehaven News’ went to the site and took initially took control of the early part of the crash investigation.
Although many of the townsfolk of Whitehaven and almost all the schoolchildren of the town saw the crash, because of wartime censorship there was never a memorial to the five airmen – until Wednesday 10 September 2008, almost sixty five years later. Finally, a memorial seat was installed near the crash site, arranged by Whitehaven Heritage Action group. The seat was unveiled by relatives of two of the airmen of Flight R9780 and Mr Glynn Griffiths of RAF Millom Museum.
Mr Michael Moon, Chairman of the Whitehaven Heritage Action Group, summed up the feelings of many after the service of dedication as follows:
“Even though I knew none of those Airmen who were so tragically killed, I felt in a sense they were there with us, looking down on the unfolding events, approvingly. It is a great comfort to know that no one is truly forgotten - who is remembered by their friends”.
16 September 2008