Remembering victims of the Bomber crash

IN FLIGHT: A Wellington Bomber
IN FLIGHT: A Wellington Bomber

During the Second World War, people in Chorley bore witness to one of the worst wartime aeroplane crashes in the area, when a Bomber of the RAF crashed on the West Pennine moorland in November 1943.

Although there were fatalities, no one hailed from the immediate region and it was fortunate for the people of Chorley that the aeroplane fell on the moors rather than on to a residential area.

However, nearly 70 years later, the Airmen who lost their lives are still remembered.

The numbers are increasing of people making the pilgrimage to the remote spot near the site of the crash where a memorial service takes place every November to ensure that their sacrifice is not forgotten.

Local historian Stuart Clewlow has researched and written an account of the events that occurred all those years ago.

“On the night of November 15, 1943, Wellington Bomber Z8799 and its crew of six took off from its base at Wymeswold, Leicestershire at 9.52pm.

It was part of No.28 OTU and was flying a night-time training cross-country exercise on its way to Manchester.

It is believed part way through the flight a deadly build up of ice had formed on the airframe of the Wellington, to such a degree that control was lost, and the bomber entered a steep, high-speed dive.

This resulted in the structural failure and eventual break up of the aircraft.

It led to the loss of the Wellington and deaths of the entire crew.

The wreckage was scattered far and wide over a large area of Anglezarke Moor.

A Royal Observer Corps member, posted at Chorley, reported having heard a loud crash and was instrumental in alerting and directing rescuers to a possible area of impact.

One of the first on the scene was the late Police War Reserve Constable C H Swift.

He led a team of six in search of the Wellington, and by approximately 8am on November 16, they found the majority of the Wellington on its back and the crew within close proximity.

In June 1955, the Rotary Club of Horwich erected a memorial some distance from the site where the majority of the wreckage of the Bomber came down. The memorial takes the form of a large stone pillar and although bearing an incorrect date of the crash, it importantly lists the names of the crew killed.

There is no visible evidence of the tragedy today, though the crew of the Wellington are by no means forgotten.

Memorial services near the site take place every year and a large ceremony took place on the 50th anniversary of the tragedy in 1993.

The crew were Flight Sergeant Joseph Banks Timperon, aged 24; Sergeant Eric Raymond Barnes, 22; Sergeant Joseph Banks Hayton, 34; Sergeant Robert Sidney Jackson; Sergeant George Ernest Murray; and Sergeant Matthew Mouncey, 19.”