VIDEO: Plaque unveiled to mark WWII crash site

A poignant ceremony has been held to commemorate airmen who crashed near Kings Clipstone during the Second World War.

A permament memorial stone was unveiled on the land at Broomhill Grange where the Stirling Mark 3 bomber fell out of the sky in February 1944 and crashed just yards from a farmhouse owned by the Bealby family.

Pictures from the Memorial Dedication ceremony at Broomhill Grange, Kings Clipstone, Mansfield, where a Stirling Bomber crashed in 1944. NMAC 19-6-15 Dedication, Robert & Jane  Bealby unveiling the Memorial, the Bomber crashed on their land   (2)

Pictures from the Memorial Dedication ceremony at Broomhill Grange, Kings Clipstone, Mansfield, where a Stirling Bomber crashed in 1944. NMAC 19-6-15 Dedication, Robert & Jane Bealby unveiling the Memorial, the Bomber crashed on their land (2)

Five of the seven airmen on board died in the crash, which was meant to be the crew’s final training flight before going to war.

Six of the seven crew were Australian.

The farm is still owned by the Bealby family, and Jane Bealby and her husband Robert had spent months researching the tragedy.

Having tracked down relatives of many of the crewmen, they wanted to erect a lasting tribute at their farm and held the respectful event joined by a number of invited guests.

This included Helen Handyside, the daughter of surviving crew member, Flt Sgt Reg Plath.

Flt Sgt Path is 91 and lives in Brisbane, Australia, but was unable to attend the ceremony.

However Helen made the 10,000 mile journey and was overwhelmed by the event.

She said: “What we have experienced will have a long lasting effect on us. We will always cherish this time and remember our time together with much fondness.

“This has been an exceptional experience. What you (Jane and Robert Bealby) have done to recognise dad’s crew is so thoughtful.

“It is a beautiful gesture and one which our family appreciates immensely.”

Ray Thompson, nephew of Australian navigator Campbell Bird, who died in the crash, was also in attendance.

He said: “I had a lot of difficulty coping with the idea I was not going to see my uncle again and my aunt’s life was shattered.

“This is very important to me, I am very grateful for Jane’s work. I am 87 and most certainly would not have flown out of Australia for anything else.”

The commemoration stone was draped in an Australian flag, which was later removed to unveil a plaque dedicated to the airmen.

A time capsule was placed into the stone, which included knitted poppies and a piece of the plane found by metal detectorists among other items.

The Last Post was also played to round off the ceremony.

Mrs Bealby,(71), said: “The whole event was really memorable but the playing of The Last Post, out in the open, looking across at the field where the accident happened will stay with me a very long time.”

However, she says her work is still not complete and is hoping to piece together more information in the aftermath of the crash. That includes any personal testimony from home guards, nurses, firemen or anyone who witnessed the crash or helped evacuate the stricken servicemen.

Also, with the commemoration stone being on private land, anyone wishing to visit the site is being asked to contact Mrs Bealby in advance.

Anyone with information about the crash, or wants to visit the site, can email jane.bealby@tesco.net

The crash happened at around 1.30am on 26th February, 1944.

The crew had been flying the Stirling on their last training exercise before going into active duty, when they ran out of fuel.

Hours before they had taken off from RAF Winthorpe, a training airfield in Newark.

A mayday signal was sent before the aircraft clipped nearby trees, smashed into a field and slid into a hollow, where it disintegrated.

The mixed farm has been in the Bealby family since 1914 and the grandparents of Jane’s husband, Robert, helped the stricken airmen.

The main tail and fuselage landed close to the farm house on Broomhill Grange, near to the A6075 Mansfield Road at Kings Clipstone.

Two of the engines were found half a mile from the crash site when a convoy of Army lorries full of soldiers were deployed to help clear the wreckage.

Four of the five men who died were Australian, while 19-year-old Flt Sgt George Davison was from Durham.

A sixth member, Flt Sgt William Taylor, survived but did not return home from a bombing mission over Braunschweig just three months later.

Flt Sgt Reg Plath is the only surviving member.

Earlier this year, metal detectorists were invited onto the farm where they were able to unearth scores of riveted fragments from the plane, along with dozens of bullet casings that were buried for more than 71 years.