Witness to the Lancaster Tragedy

Jim Elphick

Following the article in the Barrow Voice summer 2013 edition on the Lancaster crash, Mr Jim Elphick of Barrow upon Soar, who witnessed the crash and was one of the first on the scene, wanted to share his 'experience'.

It was the 8th September 1943 and Jim, aged 14 at the time, was working with his friend, Roy Bishop, also 14, on Cecil Hardy's farm on the Six Hills Road.

They were harvesting at the time, stacking hay by hand, when they heard a loud noise then saw a Lancaster bomber about 200 feet off the ground. It banked to the left then tipped upside down as it impacted on the ground exploding into a great ball of flame, the boys, Jim and Roy, ran down the field over the stream and reached the debris of the plane which had broken into many small pieces, the largest they estimated was about 12 foot long and part of the fuselage.

What Jim then saw and was to give him nightmares for many years after, was a decapitated body on the ground in RAF uniform and the head of a young boy lying a few yards away. Jim vividly remembers his face to this day.

The boys were helpless to do anything but they soon heard a lorry approaching which was from Wymeswold airfield driven by a civilian, Jack Lord, who was working there. He advised the boys it was not a place for young men and they left the field with the awful images still fresh in the their minds.

Jim also witnessed another crash. This was the January 1945 crash of the Dakota in the fields behind Breachfield Road. He describes it as happening on a cold dark winter's night when it was snowing a real blizzard. He was walking down New Street when he heard a loud bang and saw a flash in the sky. He then immediately ran down a jitty towards the field so fast he remembers slipping on the ice. Three people died in that crash.

Jim went on to do his national service from 1949-1951 in West Germany with the army before returning to Barrow, the images of the crashes forever imprinted on his mind.


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Last Updated. 10-January-2016 By admin