Crew of wartime bomber that crashed in Northallerton to be remembered (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Crew of wartime bomber that crashed in Northallerton to be remembered
SEVEN members of an RAF bomber which crashed yards from a town centre school during the Second World War are set to be remembered.
The Remembrance Sunday service in Northallerton will mark the 70th anniversary of the four-engine Halifax aircraft exploding into a fireball as it hit an unoccupied bungalow beside Applegarth School on Springwell Lane at 3pm on December 2, 1943.
The plane’s crew had been training to shake off fighters and had taken off from RCAF Croft, near Darlington shortly before.
Northallerton vicar, the Rev Danny Walker, said after the laying of wreaths on Sunday, November 10, at 11am, the service would include presentations about the crash and prayers for the crew which included four Canadians, two Welshmen and an Irishman.
Rev Walker said: “We wanted to mark the anniversary as it may be the last major one when there is a significant number of people there who remember the crash.
“It is a reminder that people die serving their country while training.”
Chairman of the Northallerton and District History Society Jim Sedgwick, who was attending afternoon lessons at the school when the plane crashed, said he believed the town should also honour the crew with a blue plaque at the site.
The 79-year-old said: “We were in lessons and there was the normal aircraft noise going on, but it became louder and louder until it became deafening.
“There was a terrific explosion and all you could see out of the school windows was fire and singed geese which landed in the playground.
“A cry went up at a furniture sale being held at the nearby auction mart that the school had been hit and frantic mothers appeared from everywhere, some fainted."
The building was not damaged, but was engulfed in smoke and the children were led out hand-in-hand on to the playing field, according to wartime procedure.
Mr Sedgwick said: “Just like when Kennedy was killed, everybody who was in Northallerton that day remembers exactly what they were doing.”
Historian Kenneth Reast, of Sowerby, said while the cause of the crash had never been confirmed, it appeared a violent diving manoeuvre had caused the Halifax to break up at 7,000ft.
He said: “It could have crashed into the nearby High Street and killed many more people.”
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