Beaumont Leys plane crash on 25th April 1943 -
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.
Owen F Adams