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         How It All Started

It was the morning of Monday 7th  May 1962.  

A few early risers were wandering about the the charred  gorse and smashed metal, trying to take in the sudden destruction that had so recently come to this peaceful place. The fenced hillside was now open with gaping holes in the wire netting that until yesterday had secured the perimeter of the RAF compound.  The tyre marks of rescue vehicles, fire engines and emergency vehicles were clearly visible on the ground. Sightseers cars were parked along the track way outside and people were scrambling over the low bank that served as a boundary between the road and the radar site. A small boy quietly opened the back door of his parent's Morris Minor, climbed out and swiftly crossed the track, heading for the fence.  After clambering up the bank and through the hole in the wire he set off to follow Dad, wherever he might be going.  

Suddenly the  gorse bushes, which had formed a near impenetrable barrier to a five year old,  opened into a  vista of open hillside - and there in stark relief was a maelstrom of smashed aluminium, debris and wreckage. The child didn't go too far into the wreck but spent a long time examining larger parts that had broken free from the remains of the plane, being aware of the tragedy, but not fully understanding the significance of what had happened  the day before.  A wheel and tyre, the mass of coloured cables hanging from the back of a smashed engine, the shattered remains of the fuselage and tail all provided particular interest.  The other images, the black burned ground, bits of aluminium, smashed luggage, personal effects littering the site and the heavy smell of burned oil and plastic did not really have their full effect before the boy's parents realised he was missing and he was hurried back to the car.

Only an hour before my Father had looked up from his paper and announced that an aircraft had come down nearby and that after our holiday hotel had served breakfast, he wanted to go and have a look.  Dutifully Mother went with him and as a child, I had to go to.   Very soon I had seen things never to be forgotten.

Many years later I decided to discover what really happened.  There followed a year of findings, revelations and 'happenings' - and some scarcely believable coincidences - perhaps there might be more to the story than 'controlled flight into terrain' as they say in the airline business.  The precise details of how we obtained those crucial details that enabled the story to be pieced together are not really suitable for publication on the Internet, and add little to the published facts. However as the final part of my research,  an e-mail was sent to one of the broadcast companies as we had hoped to do a documentary on the accident  -  and the person who received it was personally and very directly involved - closely related to one of the flight crew,  and looking for answers that our research provided.   If the message had not arrived on that day, at that time, he would never have received it.  It seemed there may be unfinished business that could perhaps be concluded by some kind of formal tribute to all those involved.

After this unexpected meeting, we began work on the second part of the project and the idea of a memorial website was discussed. Having written the text and loaded it onto the server, I returned to the hillside  to photograph the old radar station.  Looking out to sea and mentally plotting the track where the Dakota had flown along the valley.  I said  partly to my long suffering wife Gill and partly to myself   'These people need a memorial up here'.  

It seemed impossible at the time.  How could a couple of people who didn’t even live on the Island manage to get a memorial erected on one of the highest points on the South Coast in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on Natural Trust Land. A memorial to an almost forgotten accident so many years ago.

Then after the response to the site's launch on the 40th anniversary, and the increasing interest in the subject, together with the fantastic support of the survivors, relatives, aviation enthusiasts, historians, National Trust and NATS staff, the residents of Ventnor, - and of course Roger Bunney's behind the scenes work and dedication, it became a possibility.

We can only tell some of the story on these pages but hopefully that will be sufficient to put the record straight.

Ross Floyd

The author his and long suffering wife.









The author and his and long suffering wife.