Due to Nidderdale’s proximity to North Yorkshire Bomber Command bases, our notorious Dales weather conditions and tricky air currents in the valley, Nidderdale witnessed a few wartime plane crashes. With rudimentary navigational equipment, most crashes were caused by low flying manoeuvres, mostly involving planes from Operational Training Units and Bomber Command. There were occasional enemy aircraft that had been hit, as well as other Allied planes limping home and misjudging height, or running out of fuel.
Special rescue teams were sent out locally during wartime, but not much was known of these crashes at the time because of the need to keep military information secret. The first on site were often volunteer groups from the area, mostly men over the age for military service and the St. John Ambulance First Aid Party.
Wartime Plane Crashes In Nidderdale
In and around Nidderdale we know about some of these Second World War crashes thanks to the research of those such as Tony Cansell and David Shuttleworth, whose records are now lodged at Nidderdale Museum. According to David Shuttleworth’s notes, Greenhow Hill seemed particularly vulnerable to crashes. On 6th September 1941 a Whitley MKV from 78 Squadron Middleton St. George, returning from operations, crashed on Greenhow killing three of the crew. Another crash we know about took place on 26th September 1942, when a Wellington based at Wing in Buckinghamshire crash-landed on Greenhow during a cross country exercise. The wreckage caught fire and PC Fred Graham and members of the Home Guard were instrumental in pulling badly wounded crew from the aircraft, for which they all received commendations for their bravery.
WWII Aircraft Remnant
On 28th May 1945 a Wellington MK10 Silverstone crashed at Gill House, Bycliffe Moor. Decades later, Tony Cansell found a seven inch wide piece of wreckage from the plane, which he subsequently mounted for display and kindly donated to the Museum. Small aircraft remnants, and a unique collection of notes and photographs, taken by Tony and his wife Barbara, along with the piece of crashed Wellington, are on display in the Nidderdale Museum War Room.
As you enter Nidderdale Museum’s War Room you hear the tramp of marching feet and an iconic Vera Lynn song from the 1940s, which must have been familiar to the pilot and crew of the planes flying over skies in Nidderdale. The War Room houses our collection of uniforms, gas masks, and memorabilia from the two world wars.