Midnight Crash of R.A.F. Plane
Crew and Four Villagers Lose Their Lives
Death and destruction came to the peaceful village of Darrington, near Pontefract, late on Saturday night, when a RAF plane crashed between a group of houses on the main road and on Chapel Hill. The crew was killed as well as well as four members of one of the most respected families in the village. Four houses and the Old Chapel were burnt out , and four more people living in two of them were injured and taken to Pontefract General Infirmary.
The civilians who lost their lives were Harry Dean (68), his wife Mabel Dean (66), their son William (33) and their daughter Ellen (36). They were asleep in the house which felt the greatest force of the crash and were buried in the wreckage. The bodies were recovered hours later by firemen and an A.R.P. rescue squad. Three other daughters, Mabel (25), Gwyneth (24), and Nona (21) were in the part of the house farthest waay from the crash and they escaped down another staircase before that part caught fire. Those taken to Pontefract General Infirmary were - Midgley Pease (65) with burns on the hands and face; his wife Hilda Pease (62) with burns and shock; John Wardell (56) cut head and shock; his wife Alice Wardell (57) severe shock. They were detained.
The calamity occurred shortly after 11.30 pm. The aeroplane was heard by many people in the neighbourhood, flying very low and the opinion was formed that it might be in difficulties.
At the time, most of the inhabitants were in their houses, many of them in bed and no-one seems to have seen the machine as it crashed. It appears, however, that it approached the main road from an easterly direction and skimmed over an orchard ajoining the road, cutting off the tops of some cherry trees in the process. It is thought that it collided with an electric standard in front of Wardell's house, buried itself between the house of the Dean family and the old chapel. Parts of the plane flew in all directions and one wing crashed on the path leading to Pease's house and completely blocked the only exit. The wreckage, the partly demolished house of Mr. Dean, three other houses and the chapel caught fire; and it was in escaping that Mr Wardell and Mr and Mrs Pease were injured. It was apparent that the aeroplane had been gradually losing height, but it is possible that if it had missed the standard, it might have just cleared the house tops and landed in the open fields beyond. Chapel Hill is the only part of Darrington where there is a cluster of houses.