Halifax Bomber Crash 1943

As I Remember It by John W. Qualtrough

On November the 6th 1943 a Halifax Bomber (W1251 from Topcliffe, Yorkshire), flew over Port St. Mary. It was a Saturday afternoon. I was in my father’s shoe shop in High Street when I heard it. It sounded rough and misfiring. I ran out to the top of the lane across the road where you could see over the bay. As I looked up it disappeared into the cloud, trailing smoke. After a few seconds there was a bang and it came out in bits. The tail and one wing broke off, and a lot of small bits, the fuselage came straight down spiralling slightly. It hit the ground in a cloud of smoke. I saw what looked like a chequer board, black and white, shoot across the ground, it must have been some sort of optical illusion.

A short time after the Port St. Mary Fire Tender went. My father was in the brigade so he went. It crashed at Cronk Moar farm, not Strandhall as the records say. On impact the flames had set several haystacks on fire. My father was there all night. The farmer, Bertie Qualtrough, was coming up the lane in a horse and cart. The horse bolted over the hedge, Bertie’s cap blew off and he never found it. The tail was some way from the rest of the wreckage and one of the air crew, presumably the rear gunner was found later, deep into the ground. The farmer’s daughter died some weeks later from shock. She wasn’t very strong and it had come down just by the house. My father brought me back some engine bits.

He told me one funny story. One fireman, a painter from Port St. Mary was sleeping in the cowhouse (they were on shifts at night) when he received a cow "flop" in his face and woke up spluttering much to the amusement of the rest of the fire crew.