New memorial for WWII wreck site in Kielder

Halifax Bomber – RAF

The sacrifice of some of those who gave their lives in the Second World War was remembered today with a restored memorial cross in Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland.

On 15 October 1944 a Halifax bomber (DK116) on a night-time exercise flight from its base in Lincolnshire developed a fire in one of its four engines at 22,000 feet.  In a desperate attempt to extinguish the flames the pilot put the aircraft into a steep dive after ordering his crew to bail out. Three of them parachuted to safety, but four remained on board with the pilot to try and release the rear gunner from his turret.  All these brave men perished.

The crash site on Glendue Hill in the 62,000 hectare Forestry Commission beauty spot is a protected military wreck site marked by a simple wooden cross, which has now been replaced.  The move comes after a visit to the site by Richard Maughan, 52, a retired civil engineer from Stocksfield, who has an interest in Second World War history.  He explained:

Richard Maughan and background Derek Riley, Forestry Commission craftsman, at the site of the bomber wreck in Kielder, together with the new memorial cross they erected today.

“The cross had seen better days and needed replacing.  I’m always inspired by the need to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives in the war. This is an important site and I’m pleased that working with the Forestry Commission we can highlight the sacrifice and the enduring legacy of these men.”

The cross was made by Steve Race of Westgate and his colleagues at the Weardale Railway, who donated the materials.

Some of the wreckage from the site was subsequently salvaged to help restore another Halifax bomber, which together with the Lancaster, were the two main heavy RAF bombers of the war. Halifax DK116 was part of a Heavy Conversion Unit designed to give aircrews experience of flying big four-engined bombers. Training flights could often be as hazardous as real operations and many aircraft were lost.

Alex MacLennan, Forestry Commission Public Affairs Chief for the North East, said:

New memorial cross at Kielder Water and Forest Park

“The aircraft crashed in a very remote spot and we were only too pleased to work with Richard Maughan and his colleagues to ensure that the site is properly commemorated.”

Find out more about Kielder Water and Forest Park at www.visitkielder.com


2 Comments

  1. C. Smart August 11, 2013 9:13 am  Reply

    Thank you for this article. My father flew with Bomber Command in WW2. I have visited several crash sites in Northumberland and would like to pay my respects at this location. Do you have any advice with regard to navigation?

    • Visit Northumberland August 11, 2013 9:25 am  Reply

      Hi C. Smart
      Glad you enjoyed the article.
      Please phone our colleagues at the Bellingham Tourist Information Centre on 01434 220616 as they will have the local knowledge about how to get to the memorial.
      Kind regards
      Ian

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