RAF air crashes memorial, Blaenau Ffestiniog
Outside St David’s Church is a memorial to airmen who died in four crashes in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area during the Second World War. See below for their details.
In March 1941, five men died when their Wellington bomber of 150 Squadron crashed on the upper slopes of Moel Farlwyd. They had taken off from RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire, tasked with bombing the German navy’s submarine pens near Lorient, in Brittany. Returning to base, the crew got lost in low cloud.
The sole survivor, Sergeant Peter Martlew, was a gunner in the rear turret, which separated from the rest of the aircraft on impact. Peter was dazed from the crash when rescued and handed over his gun, believing that he had been captured by Germans. In reality, his rescuers were residents of Blaenau Ffestiniog speaking Welsh!
In May 1941, a Spitfire belonging to 57 Operational Training Unit at RAF Hawarden, Flintshire, crashed on Moel Dyrnogydd with the loss of the pilot, John Tiplady Brown. He was educated at Rugby School and had served as an officer in the Territorial Army. At the outbreak of war, he enlisted into the Royal Artillery and then transferred to the RAF. A month before his untimely death he had become engaged to Sheila Coggins, of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
In April 1942, American pilot Douglas MacGillvary Brown, serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve, was killed when the Spitfire he was flying out of RAF Hawarden crashed near Llyn Newydd while on a training exercise. The 21-year-old had recently graduated from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, and volunteered for service even though the United States had not yet entered the war.
In August 1942, Canadian Robert McIntyre was flying a Hurricane fighter from Speke near Liverpool to RAF Valley, Anglesey, to take part in an ‘air to air’ firing exercise. In low cloud he became disorientated and flew into the top of Allt y Ceffylau.
With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno
Postcode: LL41 3AW View Location Map
Wellington crash, 21 March 1941
- Beddall, Harold, Sergeant 563055. Aged 27. RAF. Buried Nottingham Northern Cemetery. Son of Herbert and Annie Beddall; husband of Marjorie Beddall of Plumtree.
- Elliot, Charles Hammerton, Flying Officer 41159. Aged 21. RAF. Buried Bedford Cemetery, Bedfordshire. Son of Charles and Mary Elise Elliot of Bedford.
- Killen, John, Sergeant 751525. Aged 20. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Buried Hartlepool (Stranton) Cemetery. Son of Benjamin and Olive Killen of West Hartlepool.
- Kirk, Lewis John, Sergeant 755374. Aged 27. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Buried at Reading Cemetery. Son of Lewis Kirk MM, MSM, and Esther Margaret Kirk of Reading.
- Parkhurst, Roland Clive, Pilot Officer 45232. Aged 24. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Buried Andover Cemetery, Hampshire. Son of Clive and Ellen Parkhurst; husband of Violet May Parkhurst of Andover.
Spitfire crash, 26 May 1941
- Brown, John Tiplady, Pilot Officer 44658. Aged 26. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Buried Hawarden (St. Deiniol) Churchyard. Son of John Tiplady Brown and Gladys Margery Brown of White Lodge, Brunswick Drive, Harrogate, Yorkshire.
Spitfire crash, 5 April 1942
- Brown, Douglas MacGillvary, Pilot Officer 112288. Aged 21. RAF Volunteer Reserve. Buried Tubney (St. Laurence) Churchyard, Oxfordshire. Son of Sydney MacGillvary Brown and Eleanor Blanche Brown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA.
Hurricane crash, 9 August 1942
- Mcintyre, Robert Bruce, Pilot Officer J/15314. Aged 24. Royal Canadian Air Force. Buried at Porthmadog Public Cemetery. Son of Harold and Olive McIntyre of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.