Bid to mark 70th anniversary of crash

The aftermath of the plane crash Marston Road looking West (s)
The aftermath of the plane crash Marston Road looking West (s)

A lasting memorial is to be erected in Tockwith later this year to mark a devastating crash in the village in World War II.

At 1.34am on Tuesday October 9, 1945 the tranquil street scene of Marston Road in the village was changed beyond recognition.

A visual of how the monument will look in Marston Road Tockwith' (s)

A visual of how the monument will look in Marston Road Tockwith' (s)

Tockwith Parish Council chairman Norman Waller, who is co-ordinating the memorial project, said: “A Stirling Bomber, about to land on the nearby Marston Moor Airfield, crashed in the main street killing the village postmaster, the six crew members and wrecking 19 houses.

“There was a trail of damage stretching from the then Post Office to Ralph Garth.

“There have been all sorts of theories as to why the plane crashed in the Main Street.”

The subsequent Air Ministry board of enquiry found that the aircraft had stalled at 2,000 feet during a turn to port in bad visibility.

The planned statue of a bomber has been designed by Stage One who operate from a hangar on the old Marston Moor Airfield and built the famous cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics.

It is expected to be unveiled at a special service on Sunday October 11, which is the nearest Sunday to the 70th anniversary of the crash.

Mr Waller added: “The site chosen for the monument is close to where the main impact of the crash was; in fact some of the nearby trees are reputed to have pieces of the crashed aircraft in them.

“It is felt that the monument is very striking and will have sufficient impact to remind people about the crash.

“The only public memorial to those who died in the crash is on display in Tockwith Church but this is merely a piece of typed card.”

The crash caused devastation to the village and changed the lives of residents affected forever.

At the time grocer William Todd, who also had his shop badly damaged, said: “Tockwith looks like an old shelled French village in the last war and the plane is strewn in pieces along the main street.

“It crashed on top of the street and its blazing wreckage ploughed its way along the row of shops and houses.”

As well as he deaths, and destruction to buildings, phone lines were cut and a water main severed.

But Mr Waller explained that because of a sign of the times, no memorial was dedicated to those who died.

“It was a question of keep calm and carry on,” he explained.

Awards for bravery displayed after the crash were later presented to a number of people, including the village policeman Cons Harry Sagar, Company Officer Leslie Matthews of Wetherby and Leading Fireman John Utley, of Wetherby.

Mr Matthews and Utley received the British Empire Medal and PC Sagar received the Kigns Commendation for Brave Conduct.

The RAF, British Legion, Police and Fire Service are expected to play a significant role in the commemorations and Mr Waller is calling for descendants of those killed to contact him on 01423 358588.