Moving ceremony to remember three aircrew who died in wartime plane crash in Romsley - The Bromsgrove Standard

Moving ceremony to remember three aircrew who died in wartime plane crash in Romsley

A SMALL ceremony took place in Romsley on Sunday to mark the 77th anniversary of a crash in which three aircrew died.

The Wellington bomber came down in a field near Worcestershire County Council’s Romsley Penny Fields circular walk.

The tragic accident was not widely known about until it was researched by Stuart Smith who had heard about a wartime plane crash while he was carrying out his work as a Parish Paths Warden in Romsley ten years ago.

He said: “Nobody seemed to have any real information about it but, having an interest in aviation, I was intrigued by this accident, especially because of the dearth of detail.”

Then last year, Stuart found a comprehensive report into the incident online.

The crash – on August 21, 1944 – involved pilot F/O Kenneth Wilson Fox, navigator Sgt George Firth and wireless operator/air gunner P/O Stanley Clarkson Walker who were flying a Wellington X MF517 plane.

F/O Fox, 29 at the time, and P/O Walker, 33, were from Toronto, Ontario, in Canada and Sgt Firth, also 29 at the time, was from Braford in Yorkshire.

On that fateful night they had set off on a training flight from RAF Bramcote near Nuneaton.

The aircraft failed to return and it later transpired it had crashed at Newton Farm, Romsley.

The last message received from the crew was in the early hours of the morning on August 22.

Around 1.30pm, Worcester Police reported an aircraft had crashed near Halesowen. The Chief Training Officer and Flight Commander immediately visited the site and discovered it was the missing Wellington.

It had been lost and killed the aircrew instantly when it hit the ground.

The report concluded the aircraft was undertaking a diving turn to the right and travelling at high speed when it crashed.

There was no indication it was out of control and the aircraft was totally destroyed with the wreckage stretching for 250 yards.

It added it was probable the pilot had descended through the cloud without locating accurately where he was and that it seemed he did not realise he was over higher ground.

At Sunday’s ceremony, members of the parish council were present, along with a number of Romsley residents.

Council chairman Dave Powell gave a brief summary of the accident, naming the three crew airmen who died, where they are buried and the epitaphs on their graves.

Stuart then unveiled the memorial plaque and Steph Cotterill, a member of the Rubery Marching Band, played the Last Post on her bugle to start a two-minute silence.

After the silence, the Reveille was played and flowers were laid at the memorial.

Stuart added: “We were fortunate with the weather and one or two present have commented they found it a moving ceremony.

“The event was the end of a long journey for me in trying to ascertain and clarify what really happened at Romsley 77 years ago.

“The detail of this tragedy was in danger of getting lost in the mists of time as those alive at the time pass on and the details have become more and more vague and distorted.

“Hopefully local people will know what happened and will remember it for many years to come.”


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