This information and photos have been sent to me by Giovanni Verbeeck for use on AiX.
On Thursday, April 10 1947, three Belgian Air Force Dakotas (169 Wing, 366Sqn) left Evere for maintenance company Scottish Aviation in Prestwick. Dakota K-14 was carrying an additional crew who had to return an Airspeed Oxford from Prestwick to Evere. The two other Dakotas would be ferried to Prestwick for maintenance. Both crews were to return to Belgium on-board the K-14.
Douglas C-47B D896 K-14 crashed in the Scottish Highlands en-route to Prestwick, the 3 active crew members and the Oxford-crew, also consisting of 3, would not survive the crash. The two other Dakotas made it safely; Capt. Debęche (D413) managed to land in Prestwick and Capt. Henry landed his Dakota (D590) in the coastal town of Silloth due to bad weather.
In May 2008, 2 members of Hangar Flying, a Belgian aviation society with a keen interest in aviation history (www.hangarflying.be – www.aviationheritage.eu), set off to the Scottish Rhinns of Kells, accompanied by guide David Reid, chairman of the Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum (www.dumfriesaviationmuseum.com). During our hike, we discovered the remains of Dakota K-14. At the disaster site, an improvised cross was placed, constructed out of the K-14’s debris.
After the initial visit, the idea to organise an honour service and to install a commemorative plaque in cooperation with Comopsair, the Belgian Air Component 15 Wing, Dakota vzw (www.dakota15wing.be) and the Dumfries & Galloway Museum was conceived. Due to the impassable terrain of the crash site, the plaque would be displayed at the Dumfries museum, a former RAF airfield with a listed tower building.
The project was supported by the Belgian Defense Minister De Crem and the commanding officer of the 15 Wing, Col. Bernard Flamang. Dakota vzw took care of the coordination and the realisation of the plan.
On Thursday, August 20 2009, a delegation of Comopsair, 15 Wing, Dakota vzw and Hangar Flying once again flew to Dumfries, where they were welcomed by David Reid and his enthusiastic team. We were also honoured that former Lt. Gen. Albert Debęche, on April 10 1947 commander of one of the Dakotas (D413), could join us in the ceremony.
Following the different speeches, Debęche uncovered the commemorative plaque honouring his deceased colleagues. Reverend Andrew McKenzie remembered the crew members in his prayers, a minute of silence was held and a tribute was played by the bagpiper. The plaque received a temporary spot on the ground floor of the building. Furthermore, the gathered guests were offered a profile drawing of the K-14 by artist Bob Block.
While Hangar Flying encourages people to explore their aviation heritage, we must warn against a hike towards the K-14 crash site unless you are accompanied by an experienced guide. Also, Galloway Forest Park is only accessible by special permission.