In memory of Ernest Hansom
In December 1950 an RAF bomber crashed while on a routine training flight from Britain to Gibraltar, killing Flight Sergeant Ernest Hansom of Penrhynside. He is not commemorated on the village’s war memorial, writes Adrian Hughes.
Ernest was born in Penrhynside. The family lived at Garreg Lythenig. Young Ernest attended Bodafon School and was later employed in the building trade by Frank Tyldesley.
During the Second World War, Ernie, as he was known locally, enlisted in the RAF and was a wireless operator/air gunner with 107 Squadron, serving on Boston bombers. He later served with 88 Squadron, flying on 20 missions over enemy territory in north-west Europe and bombing targets including airfields, railway depots and the V1 “flying bomb” bases in northern France.
In 1943 Ernie married Penrhynside girl Ada Jones, who lived opposite what is now the Village Hall. In January 1944 the RAF flew Ernie to RAF Valley on Anglesey so he could quickly get to see Ada, who was gravely ill after giving birth to their twin daughters. One of the little girls died.
At the end of the war Ernie decided to remain in the RAF and was based at the Empire Air Navigation School at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire. He was promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant and from there was involved in the Aries missions – a series of long distance, research flights using modified bombers which aimed to solve the problems of world-wide navigation.
On 5 December 1950 Ernest took off in a Wellington bomber from RAF Shawbury on an 8,000-mile training flight to Khartoum, Sudan, via Gibraltar and Cyprus, returning to Britain via Malta. In a thunderstorm, over the Costa Blanca region of Spain, Hansom’s plane crashed into Mount Montgo, killing all seven crew.
Flight Sergeant Hansom was 28 years old and left his wife, three sons and a daughter. He was buried with full military honours at Gibraltar’s North Front Cemetery.