Wartime pilot from Harpenden to be honoured after fatal crash

PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 January 2017

The crash site at Fullamoor, Dartmoor.
Picture: Rob Jones

The crash site at Fullamoor, Dartmoor. Picture: Rob Jones

Archant

A plaque is being laid for a wartime pilot from Harpenden who was killed in a plane crash in 1942.

The original plaque, placed in 1983 by survivor Dennis Pass.
Picture: Rob JonesThe original plaque, placed in 1983 by survivor Dennis Pass. Picture: Rob Jones

Flying Officer Gavin Sellar, who was 21 when he died, was the pilot and captain of an RAF Bomber which came down in Dartmoor on October 30, 1942.

The aircraft, Liberator FK242 of 224 Squadron RAF, took off from Beaulieu in Hampshire and on its way back struck a barrage balloon cable as it passed over Plymouth, before crashing in Fullamoor, Dartmoor.

The new plaque.
Picture: Rob JonesThe new plaque. Picture: Rob Jones

Gavin Sellar died alongside five other crew members, Flying Officer Victor Crowther, Pilot Officer William Cruickshanks, Pilot Officer William Martin, Sergeant Harry Dawe and Sergeant William Fraser.

One man, rear gunner Sergeant Dennis Pass, survived, and placed a memorial plaque at the crash site in 1983, which has since eroded.

Gavin Sellar's family home, Coleswood House in East Common, Harpenden.Gavin Sellar's family home, Coleswood House in East Common, Harpenden.

According to the Harpenden History Society, Gavin Morton Sellar was the son of Mr and Mrs James Sellar, who lived in Coleswood House, East Common. He was taught at Charterhouse School in Surrey, and went on to Cambridge University.

He left behind a widow, Jean Sellar, who also came from Harpenden. His parents moved out of Coleswood House by 1960.

Rob Jones, 76, who was born a day before the crash and lives in Tavistock, a mile from the crash site, is eager for Mr Sellar’s relatives to be made aware of the memorial.

Mr Jones, who used to be a project officer for the MoD, published a book two years ago about Dartmoor air crashes.

He said: “When I started enquiring about the crew members details came in but I have got very little about Gavin Sellar.

“Over the months there’s been a lot of interest in the story and now a group of supporters and some of the relatives of the crew have arranged for a small memorial to be placed close to where the men died.

“I would like to make any relatives of Gavin Sellar aware of what’s happening.”

Mr Jones has managed to contact the relatives of five of the other crew members, but has been unable to find any more information on Mr Sellar.

The new memorial will be placed in April, with a dedication service to the fallen men.

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