The Beaumont Leys plane crash on 25th April 1943 - A Postscript

My family and I are very grateful to Brian Turner for putting his account of the Wellington Bomber crash on Stocking Farm, Beaumont Leys, which occurred on the 25th April 1943, on this website. It was a very strange experience coming upon this account of the plane crash in which my brother, Gerry, lost his life sixty years ago.

25 April 1943 was actually Easter Sunday and they were on a cross-country navigation training flight that evening. They had only been in the air fifteen minutes when the accident occurred at 22.00 hours. There were very high winds that weekend, gale force winds, which would have added to the pilot's difficulties.

Their unit was No.29 Operational Training Unit stationed at RAF North Luffenham in Rutland. The pilot was Canadian, F/O Donald McLean (23) of Ottawa, but the rest of the crew were not Canadian. My brother, Sgt John Gerald Adams, was the wireless operator, and Irish from Belfast; he was just twenty one years old. The other three members of the crew were Sergeants George Dunn (28) of Newcastle on Tyne, Vincent Arthur Rice (21) of Bath and Joseph Riley (38) of Blackburn. They all lost their lives in that horrific accident and are buried in their home towns except the pilot who is buried at Burton-on-the-Wolds.

I imagine the rumour, which Brian refers to in the Memoir, that the crew had all baled out and survived, and that they were all Canadians, was part of the sort of misinformation that was, so often, put out during the war in the interest of public morale. Certainly there was a Canadian squadron based at North Luffenham at the time. My father visited the air station and also heard the rumour about parachutes lying about. I have some difficulty with this; it is difficult to see how that could be the case in view of the fact that Brian Turner's parents said the plane was already on fire before the impact, and nothing would have survived the huge fire which Brian himself describes. My brother's coffin had a notice on it saying it was not to be opened under any circumstances. It needs little imagination to understand why.

Coming upon this Memoir has revived many memories and, of course, roused mixed emotions. Nevertheless, I was pleased to have stumbled upon it, for I found it by utter chance while researching something quite different; it has been, in many ways, a weird experience.

I should like to compliment Leicestershire on their website and thank Terry and Clive Cartwright for their help in tracing Brian Turner. I have spoken with Brian on the telephone and he has kindly written to me with other bits of information such as that there was no report of the crash in the local newspapers at the time, and enclosing a map showing that the site of the crash, which was pasture land then, is now a housing estate.

Sgt John Gerald Adams, wireless operator

By O. Adams

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