On 8th April 2017, the families of the crew of a RAF bomber will dedicate a memorial to the 7 airmen at the site where it crashed on Dartmoor. Liberator FK242 from 224 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command, crashed at Plaster Down near Horrabridge on 30th October 1942.
Returning from the Bay of Biscay, the bomber struck a barrage balloon cable over Plymouth and was badly damaged. Diverted to make an emergency landing at Harrowbeer, the airfield by Yelverton, the aircraft was unable to get down safely and crashed 2 miles away.
Six of the crew died and the sole survivor, Dennis Pass, returned to Devon in 1983 to place a personal memorial to his comrades. The old plaque which has severely weathered is now illegible.
The new memorial will comprise of a cast bronze plaque set into a post of Dartmoor granite. It will be put in place by the Conservation Team of Dartmoor National Park Authority at the end of March. The position of the memorial will be by the car park at the southern end of Plaster Down, 2km south east of Tavistock at map reference SX517718.
The crew of Liberator FK242 were: -
Flying Officer Gavin Sellar, RAFVR, aged 21, first pilot and captain.
Sergeant Harry Dawe, RAFVR, aged 27, co-pilot.
Flying Officer Victor Crowther, Royal New Zealand Air Force, aged 24, navigator.
Sergeant William Fraser, RAFVR, aged 24, flight engineer.
Pilot Officer William Martin, RAFVR, aged 26, radio operator/gunner.
Pilot Officer William Cruickshanks, RAFVR, aged 23, radio operator/gunner.
Sergeant Dennis Pass, RAFVR, aged 20, rear gunner.
Having survived the crash on Dartmoor, Dennis Pass recovered from his injuries and returned to operational flying. Amazingly he was to survive another crash in a Liberator, which happened in Burma two years later. He died peacefully in hospital at Grimsby in February 2015, he was 92.
Robert Jones, who has organised the project said, “It will be a permanent memorial to the crew of the Liberator that crashed in 1942. We have arranged for it to be placed near to where the crash happened. The story has received a lot of publicity far and wide and that's attracted many 'friends'. I feel sure they would like to contribute, but as the cost of the new memorial has been guaranteed, it seems a good idea to invite people to donate to a charity in memory of the airmen. We decided the most appropriate was the Devon Air Ambulance.”
DAA Fundraising Director Caroline Creer added “This new memorial plaque is a wonderful tribute to the young men of the RAF Liberator who lost their lives in 1942. For friends of the families and visitors to the area to be able to leave a donation to Devon Air Ambulance is very fitting. These young men were flying over Dartmoor, just doing their job, much like our helicopters each time they are called out to an emergency. Our aircrews cross this stunning, wild terrain to reach each patient as quickly as possible and we are very grateful to have been chosen.”
The dedication will be held at 11am on Saturday 8th April 2017 and will be open to everyone. The service will be conducted by a minister of St Andrews, Whitchurch parish church. The memorial, draped in the Union Flag, will be unveiled by a relative of one of the crew before wreaths are laid by Wing Commander Derek Straw RAF (Retd), a former navigator with 224 Squadron, and Wing Commander Lisa D’Olivera RNZAF, who is the New Zealand Air Advisor, London. Relatives of the crew attending will include two nephews of William Martin, a niece of William Cruickshanks and a grandson of Dennis Pass.
‘Friends’ are encouraged to donate to Devon Air Ambulance via the Just Giving page.