Site of wartime air tragedy, Rhosneigr

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Link to Welsh translation Button link to French language translation Button link to Polish translation page During the Second World War, 11 rescuers and three airmen lost their lives near here after an RAF plane crashed into the sea. See below for their details.

Unseasonal gales lashed Anglesey on the morning of 28 August 1941. Usually aircraft would not have flown in such weather, but reports were received at RAF Valley that a German U-boat was attacking an Allied merchant shipping convoy.

Valley sent an RAF Blackburn Botha with three crew members to reconnoitre the area. Soon after taking off, the plane crashed into the sea close to Traeth Crigyll (the sandy beach north of Rhosneigr). A rescue attempt was initiated by local villagers, RAF Valley personnel and Royal Artillery soldiers stationed at the nearby Tŷ Croes camp.

From the beach the aircrew could be seen clinging to the plane’s debris in the choppy waters. The rescuers launched three boats but all were swamped by the large waves and strong swell caused by the south-westerly wind. Meanwhile the exhausted aircrew were unable to cling on any longer and were washed out to sea.

The local victims included a coastguard, a merchant seaman on leave and Rhosneigr’s village bobby. Leslie Ford, who perished in trying to swim to the stricken plane, was the driver of the staff car for RAF Valley’s Commanding Officer, who had arrived to co-ordinate the rescue operation. The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) gave posthumous bronze medals to all of the victims.

Two 17-year-old holidaymakers, Derrick Baynham and John Wood, used a sailing dinghy to reach the plane wreckage and helped the exhausted pilot (of the Polish Air Force) towards the shore. Their boat capsized but the boys were rescued by other holidaymakers, who roped themselves together and waded out. The boys were awarded the George Medal by King George VI, silver medals by the RNLI and cigarette cases by General Sikorski, Commander of Polish forces.

In 1991 a memorial plaque to the victims was erected outside Rhosneigr fire station.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno

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Victims of the Rhosneigr air tragedy

The aircrew

  • Dixon, Thomas Alexander, U/T Observer 1119294. Aged 20. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Son of Arthur W Dixon and Lydia Dixon of Dungannon. Buried at Drumcoo Cemetery, County Tyrone.
  • Glockler, Frederick Charles, Leading Aircraftman (Observer) 1376289. Aged 27. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Buried at Tottenham Cemetery, London. Son of Alexander and Elizabeth Glockler of Tottenham; husband of Stella Phyllis Glockler of Pencoed, Glamorgan.
  • Rosiewicz, Kazimierz Stefan, Plutonowy-Podchorazy (Platoon Cadet), Polish Air Force. Buried at St Mary’s cemetery, Holyhead.

Royal Artillery rescuers

  • Eaton, Reginald, Gunner 1832747. Aged 20. Buried at St Maelog’s churchyard, Llanfaelog.
  • Moger, Alfred William, Warrant Officer Class II (Battery Sergeant Major) 1062088. Aged 34. Buried at St Maelog’s churchyard, Llanfaelog.
  • Simons, Ronald Kenneth, Gunner. Aged 33. Commemorated on the Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial, Surrey. Son of Albert and Agnes Simons; husband of Celia Simons.
  • Thornton, Clarence Herbert, Gunner 1832450. Aged 20. Buried at St Maelog’s churchyard, Llanfaelog. Husband of Vera Irene Mon Thornton of West Molesey, Surrey.
  • Wilkins, Sidney, Gunner 1832511. Aged 33. Buried at St Maelog’s churchyard, Llanfaelog. Husband of Lilian May Wilkins of Bow, London.
  • Whysall, Peter Tyrel, Second Lieutenant 145327. Aged 23. Buried at St Maelog’s churchyard, Llanfaelog. Son of Philip and Miriam Theresa Whysall of Kentish Town, London.

RAF rescuers

  • Bannister, Donald William, Aircraftman 1st Class 819139. Aged 20. RAF (Auxiliary Air Force) 616 Squadron. Buried at Gap Road cemetery, Wimbledon, London. Son of Ernest James Bannister and Ethel Rosetta Bannister of Wimbledon.
  • Ford, Leslie Arthur, Leading Aircraftman 845761. Aged 29. RAF 615 Squadron. Buried at Green Lane cemetery, Farnham, Surrey. Son of Eli Arthur William and Edith May Ford; husband of Katharine Anne Ford of Stoneleigh.

Other rescuers

  • Arthur, George Cledwyn, Police Constable. Aged 29. Of Amlwch.
  • Jones, Evan, Auxiliary Coastguardsman. HM Coastguard. Aged 39. Buried at St Gwenfaen’s churchyard, Rhoscolyn.
  • Owen, Arthur John, Second Officer, Merchant Navy. Born in Rhosneigr in 1905.