Memorial bid for tragic WW2 airmen

The Northern Echo: A Stirling Mk III bomber A Stirling Mk III bomber

A COUPLE are hoping to trace the relatives of a teenage airman from the North-East killed in a crash on their farm during the Second World War.

Nineteen-year-old Flight Sergeant Engineer George Davison was one of five men to die when their Stirling Mark 3 bomber ran out of fuel on the edge of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

Two men survived the crash near Edwinstowe, which happened at around 1.30am on February 26, 1944.

Before joining the RAF, Flt Sgt Engineer Davison lived at Palm Terrace in Tantoble, near Stanley, County Durham, and was buried in the grounds of St Margaret's Church, Tanfield.

Seventy years on, Robert and Jane Bealby, who own the farm, would like to create a memorial for the men who lost their lives at the crash site.

Mrs Bealby said: “I had this idea that we should have memorial to these brave men, a stone with plaque on it or something like that.”

The Stirling took off from RAF Winthorpe, Newark, at 6.30pm the evening before on a cross country flight and was returning when it ran short of fuel.

A Mayday call was picked up at RAF Syerston, but no further response was received from the Stirling and it was found later at Broomhill Grange, to the north of Sherwood Forest, near the A6075.

The Stirling had hit some trees and crashed into a field on a small hill before sliding into a hollow and breaking up - with the main fuselage and tail section landing near the farmhouse.

No-one in the farmhouse heard the crash, but the two survivors raised the alarm and rescue services were called.

The 2,000 acre mixed farm has been in the Bealby family since 1914 and Robert Bealby’s grandparents, John and Nellie, helped the stricken airmen on the night of the disaster.

Jane Bealby has now tracked down one of the survivors, 90-year-old Flt Sgt Reginald Plath, who lives in Brisbane, Australia, and was afterwards treated at Mansfield General Hospital.

Flt Sgt William Taylor, who also survived, failed to return from a Lancaster bomber mission to Braunschweig in May 1944. He is commemorated on Runnymede Memorial West London for airmen whose bodies have never been recovered.

The other four crewmen who died, William Manuel, Campbell Bird, George Macoun and Sidney Christie, were all from Australia and are buried in Botley Cemetery in Oxford.

Mrs Bealby said: “The lives of these men should be acknowledged and we are now trying to contact their families.”

Anyone who can help with information on Flt Sgt Engineer Davison can email: jane.bealby@tesco.net

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