BACKGROUND TO MY INTEREST
click here to see map
Where is Montrose?
My interest in aviation history goes back to my childhood in the 60’s and was kindled my grandfathers recollections of incidents in the hills around his sawmill at Finzean, some 20 miles to the West of Aberdeen in NE Scotland. Some of these involved survivors staggering off the hills from forced landed training aircraft – Hawker Audaxes, and Furys from Montrose. Others however were more devastating such as the crash of Avro Vulcan XH477 on 12 June 1963. In later years I would hike for miles off beaten tracks looking for traces of these past dramas in remote parts of the Cairngorm and Grampian mountains. At that time there were substantial amounts of wreckage to be found at many sites, having been exposed by weathering from shallow burial by the recovery units. Since then however, and to my great sadness, much has been removed or damaged by souvenir hunters and private organisations, so it is no longer possible to sit on the broken wing of a Whitley or inside the skeleton fuselage of a Wellington and ponder on how it came to be in that wild and desolate spot.
In 1990 I moved to Turvey in Bedfordshire, and in the course of exploring the regions extensive aviation heritage some past local crash dramas came to light. On searching RAF archives at Hendon and records at the Public Records Office at Kew the overall scale of wartime losses in UK accidents became all too apparent, as did the level of personal tragedy and loss. By 1997 my research objectives had developed into a computerised archive of information for Bedfordshire and (loosely) 10 miles into neighbouring counties, the purpose being to record details of crashes and forced landings, together with information on any aspect of aviation history that may be otherwise lost or difficult to find. My hope is that this archive will be a useful source of information for future generations, and in particular local historians and the relations of those involved. Many details still elude me - I am particularly keen to add first (or second hand) recollections and to establish exact crash locations while memories still exist – so if you know of anyone who can or might be able to help please contact me.