Lost crews of WW2

2008

During the Second World War, Yorkshire was home to around 40 airfields, many in the flat areas of the Vale of York. More than 18,000 airmen died flying from the Yorkshire airfields, some lost on training flights, because of weather conditions or aircraft malfunction. The memorials here are just two of many. Both these aircraft were on training flights, and both crashed within a week of one another, in February 1944.

Memorial to crew of Halifax bomber, Garrowby Hill

Garrowby Hill memorial

There’s something particularly moving about finding a memorial, by chance, in a place you wouldn’t expect. We were out in the car heading for a village off the A166. We missed the turning and had to turn round in a layby. At the edge of the layby, in front of a cornfield, was this memorial, erected by Alun Emlyn-Jones, remembering his comrades.

The inscription states that the memorial marks the location where, on 7 February 1944, at 10am, Halifax bomber DK192 from RAF Rufforth crashed in 10/10ths cloud during a training flight, killing all the crew. The driver of a milk lorry, Mr Arthur Wood Kirkby, who was passing on the road, was also killed.

Memorial to crew of Lancaster bomber, Aldborough

Aldborough memorial - click to enlarge

The villagers of Aldborough erected this memorial in 1994, to mark the 50th anniversary of another Second World War crash, which occurred on 2 February 1944.

The Lancaster bomber, of 432 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, was another bomber on a training flight. Five of the crew were from the Canadian forces, two from the RAF. Flight Sgt Kenneth Huggins was a Yorkshireman, from Bradford.

The inscription records that the plane had caught fire, and was losing height, but the pilot ‘with great skill, managed to avoid the village and instead came down on Studforth Hill, a short distance to the south.’

It is clear, as you read these details, why the memorial was erected not just ‘in memory of’, but ‘in grateful memory of’.

Click on the photo for a larger view showing the names of the crew.

This crew were based at East Moor, near Sutton-on-the-Forest. There’s a memorial to all who served at East Moor, close to the site of the former airfield.

References, links, further reading

The Air War, and British Bomber Crews, in World War Two – background information, from the BBC History pages

Yorkshire Airfields in the Second World War by Patrick Otter (Countryside Books, 1998)

www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk – containing information regarding the many aircraft accidents in Yorkshire.

You may also be interested in …

Cover of Chocolate and Chicory: York and beyond, by bicycle

Chocolate and ChicoryBuy now, immediate download from gumroad.com

Chocolate and Chicory: York and beyond, by bicycle. My ebook includes further information on the airfields around York, and mapped cycle routes from York visiting some of them. Chocolate and Chicory is an exploration of the local landscape, its stories and histories, via themed journeys along the cycle tracks outside the city walls and the country lanes beyond the ring road. Can also be enjoyed from the comfort of your sofa. Read more …

9 comments

  1. Michael Davies

    I am trying to find details of a relative I never met who died in WW2. I am told he lost his life whilst on an RAF training flight in Yorkshire in 1941/42/43/. So far i have had no luck and don’t realy know where to start

    • What was the relatives name, I researched a ww2 training crash a while back

      • I’ve just emailed Michael on the address he left to pass on your message and to see if he made progress with his research. Thanks for offering to help

      • Michael Davies

        Hello Jim
        His name was Alexader Forsyth, a metroplolitan policeman who was in the Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve.
        According to his police records he died in 1944 on ‘active’ service but family stories suggest he was on a training flight over yorkshire.

  2. Richard Allenby’s site http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/ would be a good place to look. It doesn’t have a search facility though as far as I can see, and it is a large site, so it might be hard to find the info if you don’t have an exact date. You can search though from Google, put this into the Google search box and put your relative’s name where I’ve used ‘Smith':

    site:yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk smith

    Hope that’s helpful, good luck with your search and I’d love to know if you do find the information you’re looking for.

    • c jenkins

      The yorkshire air museum has records of all air crashes in yorkshire and these can be viewed at the museum…I would suggest using the commonwealth war graves records to obtain a date for your relatives death and refer to the yorkshire records for crashes near that date

  3. hi Micheal
    think this is the right one, hope it helps, with date and service number it should help a bit more with your search,
    FORSYTH, ALEXANDER
    Rank:Sergeant
    Trade:Air Gnr.
    Service No:1894970
    Date of Death:09/03/1944
    Regiment/Service:Royal Air Force Volunteer Cemetery:HARROGATE CEMETERY
    Son of Alexander and Isabella Forsyth; husband of Zena Forsyth, of Monks Orchard, Surrey.

    • Thank you for this Mark, I’ve let Michael know there’s a message for him,
      Lisa

    • Michael Davies

      Excellent information Mark,thank you very much.My next quest is to find out what type of aircraft they were in and where the crash happened.My understanding is they were on a training flight. Any advice you can give on where I should start looking would be appreciated

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>