Here, our community reporter, Paul Sherlock from Salford, explains some of the history behind the Lancaster Bomber incident during the Second World War and reveals how the nine fatalities, both crew and civilians, are still commemorated locally.
On July 30, 1944, the Lancaster Bomber PB304 of 106 Squadron based at RAF Metheringham, Lincolnshire, crashed on the banks of the River Irwell by Regatta Street and exploded, killing its crew of seven airmen, as well as two civilians who sustained such bad injuries that they died a few days later.
The crash site can be found on the red dot below.
The plane was returning from an aborted mission over Europe with its full payload of bombs. There is some uncertainty as to why the aeroplane was near Salford on its return to its Lincolnshire base, but it is generally agreed that but for the careful manoeuvring of the stricken aircraft by the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Peter Lines, there could have been a far greater loss of civilian life that day.
In 1994, the 50th Anniversary of this tragedy, a Memorial Stone was dedicated to the seven airmen, which can be found in Agecroft Cemetary. In recent years the annual memorial service has been organised by the Friends of Salford Cemeteries and I have had the privilege of attending the event each year since 2015, except for last year when Covid prevented us from holding the Service.
Their names read:
Davenport, John Bruce Thornley
Respects are still paid
This year, a memorial event was held on August 1 and was conducted by a local Anglican churchman, Rev. Daniel Burton at the nearby St. Thomas’s in Pendleton, Salford.
Another regular participant is the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, this year Councillor, John Mullen, who gave a short address and was one of those who laid a chaplet at the stone towards the end of the service.
This year Joe Bamford, the author of the definitive work on the crash, “The Salford Lancaster”, whose grandmother was one of the two civilian casualties, gave an account of what happened on that fateful day, 77 years ago and spoke about each of the crewmen and updated us on any recent new information concerning the victims and their families.
Joe, who was one of the instigators of dedicating the stone and holding the original Memorial Services, tries to join us from Sutton-in-Craven in W. Yorkshire each year, his health and the weather permitting.
Also integral to the event were the Air Cadets from the Albion Academy in Salford, together with John Brady the bugler, who stepped in on the last minute for Chris Harrison, who was unable to attend and Derrick Corfield a local veteran, who gave the appropriate exhortations, including the Kohima Epitaph.
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