DOWN MEMORY LANE: Looking back on a tragic aircraft crash

More details of the aftermath of the Beverley aircraft crash have been sent to Down Memory Lane by Ray Carter of Chichester, who writes:

Having read the original article with interest, I have been spurred on, by that ambassador for the Royal Air Force, Ken Rimmel, to add a little more to the story.

The Rapid Crash Rescue Land Rover, now owned by Ken, had been disposed of by the RAF and had been acquired by Chichester High School Combined Cadet Force where it was used in practical training alongside an aircraft engine.

When Ken learnt it was to be disposed of by the school, he set himself the task of acquiring it for the RAF Fire Museum Collection at Shoreham.

I was at the time contingent commander of the high school’s CCF.

My father had been the station fire officer at RAF Thorney Island until 1962.

Following his death, my mother and I resolved to purchase the vehicle and donate it in memory of my father’s service to Ken and the museum.

I remember proudly seeing the vehicle after it had been restored and returned to a roadworthy condition.

Deeps

What has this got to do with memories of the ill-fated Beverley?

I was a teenager and pupil at the Chi Hi at the time of the crash.

I remember getting up and being surprised to see a half-drunk glass of beer by my father’s chair.

My father loved a drink in the evening, a habit no doubt acquired from a lifetime’s membership of Service messes.

I knew something out of the ordinary had occurred, it was not father’s style not to finish his drink or clear up before going to bed.

Mother soon provided the answers, a phone call from the duty watch reporting an incident by the Deeps had sent my father, AMFO Nick Carter, to the crash site, to lead the fire section’s rescue efforts.

When he arrived at the scene of the crash, all efforts were concentrated on finding the crew members who were in the water.

It was a very dark night, the tide had turned, members of the crew could be heard calling out in the dark.

Sadly two members of the crew were lost that night.

Recovery

After a change of uniform, my father reported to the station commanding officer that morning, who, in the traditions of the Royal Air Force, made it clear to all assembled that the priority for the station CO was the recovery of the bodies of his aircrew.

The station fire section, used to working the mudflats and channels around Thorney, were able to recover the missing aircrew after a few days.

My father went on to serve in RAF Germany and RAF Lyneham and Kemble before retiring in 1976 after 47years in the RAF and Air Ministry Fire Service.

Get in touch

Have you got a memory or photograph you would like to see featured on the Down Memory Lane page?

You can email vintage@chiobserver.co.uk.

Alternatively, you can write to The Observer, Unicorn House, 8 Eastgate Square, Chichester, PO19 1JN.