Plane crash

PUBLISHED: 10:27 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

SIR, — It was with great interest that I read Mr Ian Leckie s letter (Herts Advertiser, December 11) concerning the dramatic aeroplane crash at Hett s Farm, Harpenden (now Aldwickbury Park Golf Club), in the early 1950s. My interest is in the fact that th

SIR, - It was with great interest that I read Mr Ian Leckie's letter (Herts Advertiser, December 11) concerning the dramatic aeroplane crash at Hett's Farm, Harpenden (now Aldwickbury Park Golf Club), in the early 1950s. My interest is in the fact that the "eye-witness" referred to in Mr Leckie's letter was myself and behind which lies another tale.

In the afternoon when the crash occurred - at that time I was 13 or 14 years of age - I was in the back garden of my parents' home in Highfield Avenue, happily cleaning my shoes in readiness for a few days' holiday in the Cheshire countryside at an aunt and uncle's home. It was a somewhat sultry, cloudy day and my first impression of the imminent occurrence was a distant high-pitched whine of the aircraft which rapidly became louder, followed by it bursting through the clouds in an all but vertical dive.

I recollect the air seeming to pressurise immediately before its impact with earth, the windows of our house rattled loudly, followed by a huge explosion and a cloud of black smoke rising skywards - this all being only some quarter-of-a-mile from where I stood. I think I was somewhat traumatised at the time.

However, as boys of my age at that time would do, I leapt upon my bicycle along with a pal who lived opposite and we pedalled with much gusto to the fateful scene, being the first to arrive. Flinging our bikes against the fence to the field, we ran over to the smoking crater where we saw the metal bracelet from the pilot's wrist watch referred to in Mr Leckie's letter. I remember we saw a trace of blood and skin on the bracelet, which made a great impression on us at our age.

Later on the same afternoon we were able to return to the field edge when the emergency services and authorities had departed, leaving a local police constable on duty. I met at that time three other boys of similar age to myself, all of whom disagreed with my identification of the aeroplane as a Meteor jet. The policeman took note of this and requested all of our names and addresses.

I now come to the little twist in my tale. The following day I departed for my "holiday" in Cheshire away from home and my parents. About a week or so later, my uncle received a telephone call from my father saying I was required to attend the inquest into the incident as I had correctly identified the aeroplane. This resulted in my stay with my relatives being shortened and a promised trip with them to see the Blackpool illuminations being missed, much to my disappointment. I have yet to see this highlight of one of England's premier holiday resorts!

COLIN RATCLIFFE,

High Firs Crescent, Harpenden.


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