Thanks given to man who saved crash pilot

The Lancaster Bomber memorial stone on the Grantham Canal towpath near Plungar. The Lancaster crashed on 5th March 1943 in the field beyond killing six of the seven crew. PHOTO: Lionel Heap
The Lancaster Bomber memorial stone on the Grantham Canal towpath near Plungar. The Lancaster crashed on 5th March 1943 in the field beyond killing six of the seven crew. PHOTO: Lionel Heap
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THE son of the sole survivor of a wartime Lancaster bomber crash has been able to say thank you to the air raid warden who helped save his dad’s life writes Natalie Webb.

The Second World War aircraft, crashed close to Plungar on March 5, 1943 tragically killing six members of its crew and leaving RAF Sergeant Douglas Davies as the only survivor.

Sgt Douglas Davies on volunteering in 1940. He was the only survivor of the 1943 Lancaster Bomber crash at Plungar PHOTO: Lionel Heap

Sgt Douglas Davies on volunteering in 1940. He was the only survivor of the 1943 Lancaster Bomber crash at Plungar PHOTO: Lionel Heap

Former air raid warden Dennis Kirk was on duty that night and rushed to the scene, following the crash, to find Sgt Davies in a dazed state wandering the railway track.

He helped save the pilot’s life by taking him to a nearby farmhouse from which Douglas was taken to hospital by the RAF.

Sgt Davies’ son Barrie Davies, flew from his home in Cyprus to meet Mr Kirk (92) at the weekend, to thank him for his help.

Dr Davies (67) said: “I knew my father had been involved in an air crash, during the war, but he had never spoken about it to anyone.

The Lancaster Bomber crew who all perished in the 1943 Plungar crash with the exception of Sgt Douglas Davies (third in from left). They are L-R Sgt B T Hallett, Sgt G T Cumberbatch, Sgt D S Davies (sole crash survivor), Sgt J Robinson (ground crew), Flt Sgt R R Landry, Flt Sgt G R Avey & Sgt A H Spence PHOTO: Lionel Heap

The Lancaster Bomber crew who all perished in the 1943 Plungar crash with the exception of Sgt Douglas Davies (third in from left). They are L-R Sgt B T Hallett, Sgt G T Cumberbatch, Sgt D S Davies (sole crash survivor), Sgt J Robinson (ground crew), Flt Sgt R R Landry, Flt Sgt G R Avey & Sgt A H Spence PHOTO: Lionel Heap

“So it was a very emotional day to visit the memorial, the site of the plane crash and the house he was taken to.

“The most emotional part, was when I got to meet Dennis, it was my first opportunity to meet the man who had found my father at the crash site some 70 years before.

“Dennis has an incredible memory and was able to tell me exactly what happened on that fateful night and his thoughts as to why it happened.

“Standing on the crash site he explained where the Lancaster had hit the ground, where the bodies and my father had been found and what he thought had happened.”

Crash scene..... Dennis Kirk (92) (left) who still lives in Plungar recalls the Lancaster crash for Barrie Davies (right) who is the son of the only crash survivor Sgt Douglas Davies. Dennis was the Air Warden who found Sgt Davies following the crash and helped him to a nearby farmhouse for medical attention PHOTO: Lionel Heap

Crash scene..... Dennis Kirk (92) (left) who still lives in Plungar recalls the Lancaster crash for Barrie Davies (right) who is the son of the only crash survivor Sgt Douglas Davies. Dennis was the Air Warden who found Sgt Davies following the crash and helped him to a nearby farmhouse for medical attention PHOTO: Lionel Heap

Sgt Davies died in 1981 and, in a bid to find out more about his father, Dr Davies began searching online last year and stumbled across a picture of his father in an article about villager David Webb, who was tracing the relatives of those who died in the crash for a memorial service in the village last September.

As a result of his research, Dr Davies has now found out that the bomber had taken off from RAF Waltham, Grimsby to lay mines in St Nazaire, France and that on its 550 mile return journey the crew had encountered thick fog and been instructed to land at RAF Langar.

Mr Kirk, who lives in nearby Barkestone, said: “I remember that night well.

“We were on patrol and we heard the rumbling sound of the approaching plane before, all of a sudden it just went down.

“We though it was on the railway. We went there and found Mr Davies. He must have been thrown out. We saw three other men from the front and one from the rear. They were all dead.

“I was a young man so had never seen a dead body before. It was distressing.”

He added: “It was lovely to meet Sgt Davies’ family, at the weekend, as I never knew what happened to him.”

Dr Davies, who was keen to come away from the meeting with a greater understanding about how the plane came to crash, said: “Dennis’ accounts of the night points to the fact that the engines were stuttering and that they cut out just before the crash, which indicates that the plane ran out of fuel just 400 yards short of Langar Airfield.

“The point where the bomber hit the ground was unfortunate, because between the point of impact and Langar Airfield is open, flat countryside where a ‘pancake’ landing with no fatalities would have been easy.

“Unfortunately the plane hit the ground on top of a 15 foot railway embankment, the only raised point for miles around.

“I can’t dwell on the ifs and buts but what I can say is that what the residents of Plungar have done in memory of the Lancaster bomber crew is a magnificent effort and one for which I will be eternally grateful.”