On 10th January 1945 a Douglas Dakota Mk IV took off on a training flight from 108 O.T.U. (Operational Training Unit) at Wymeswold Airfield.
At 19.40 hours it crashed to the ground at the Melton Road site known as The Breaches in Barrow and exploded killing all three crew members.
The weather conditions were treacherous - it was snowing heavily and the subsequent accident investigation cited carburettor icing as the primary cause of the crash.
The Ministry of Defence records state that the plane crashed by the railway line but eyewitnesses still living in the village report that the plane exploded in the middle of the field, after coming into the village over the church.
Information provided by Clifford East
I lived in the Old Cliff row of houses on Sileby Road, The night sky was vividly lit with colours from the fire immediately after the crash.
The next day I personally visited the crash site & was able to cross the footpath over the railway, but a military guard on the site stopped anyone getting too close. The crash site was not in the middle of the field it was closer to the railway line & towards the crossing nearer to the village centre.
C. East now aged 77 (Feb 2013)
This training version of the Dakota Mk IV carried three crew members.
909576 W.O. Frederick Edward Henry Dobson. He was aged 26 years and was the pilot of the plane.
1081568 Sgt. Edgar James Wilmot - Navigator. His age is unknown.
R251278 Sgt. Ronald James Hillsdon of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Sgt Hillsdon was aged just nineteen. He is listed as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.
Bodies were recovered from the plane and accorded a fitting burial. W.O. Dobson is buried at Devizes Cemetery; Sgt Wilmot is buried at Sevenoaks in Kent and Sgt Hillsdon is interred at Botley in Oxford.
Douglas Dakota Mk IV - a short range general purpose transport plane.
Powered by: Two Pratt & Whitney 14 cylinder radial piston engines (each 1200 hp; 894 Kw)
Wing Span: 95ft (28.95m)
Length: 64ft 5ins (19.64m)
Normal Max Take-off weight: 26000lb (11 793kg)
Max level speed at 8,500ft - 199 knots (229mph; 369km/h)
Normal range: 1500 miles (2414km)
Accommodation: Crew of three and 28 troops, or 18 stretchers and attendants or 6000lb freight.
Why does a crashed Dakota matter to us?
It matters because three brave young men gave their tomorrows for our today, and we should honour them for that alone.
However, on a very practical level the crash site is safeguarded under The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. This act states that.
A license is required to excavate any military aircraft crash sites in the United Kingdom.
A license will not be issued if human remains are likely to be found at the site.
Are human remains likely to be found at this site?
Difficult to say but researchers who field walked the site in 2010, finding numerous small parts of the plane on the surface, believe that owing to the circumstances of the crash, human remains may still be present on the site.
BRAG have informed the relevant department at the Ministry of Defence about the present circumstances of this site