Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Crash site of Wellington Bomber R1011
I went for a walk upon Bleaklow today and I come across the site of a wartime air crash. At this spot on Jan 30th 1943 three airmen, Sergeant Raymond Rouse, Flying Officer Lane and Pilot Officer Brown perished as their Wellington aircraft R1011 crashed while on exercise. Two other crew, Sergeant Miller and Pilot Officer Grisdale survived and were taken to Ashton under Lyne for treatment.
The debris from the crash is spread over quite a wide area and while it is an incredibly sad spot due to the tragic loss of life I also found it very interesting. If you watch the video you will see the small monument erected at the site plus plenty of debris including .303 machine gun rounds.
It was fascinating to see the materials used. Some such as the fragment pictured below with the date of manufacture '6 42' looks remarkably modern and would not be out of place in a recently built car whereas other materials are decidedly old school. It was amazing to see the glass used in this aircraft. Some was high quality perspex but other was the type of glass you find in a domestic dwelling. It is unbelievable to think ordinary glass was used in such an aircraft which when on active service could expect to get peppered with flak shrapnel. This must have caused countless avoidable injuries to aircrew during the war.
The crash site is quite easy to get to but the going is pretty rough in places and you would need to be moderately fit to reach the spot where the remains of Wellington R1011 lay.
If you do not have a car but would like to visit this spot you would need to get the train to Hadfield and then follow the Longdendale Trail as far as Wild Boar Clough. If coming by car, park at Torside car park and walk up the slight gradient to the Longdendale Trail and then follow the sign to Wild Boar Clough. You then need to head through the woodland until you reach the dried out stream and climb right to the top. This can be hard going as well as tiring. When at the top bear left so the Longdendale Trail and reservoirs are on your left. Follow the path as well as you can for about three miles until you can see the last power pylons near Woodhead and then keep your eyes peeled for the small monument and when sighted, you have reached the spot.
Along the way you will undoubtedly encounter many red grouse and the occasional mountain hare. Do be careful when walking off the path because there are some extremely steep drops. Also beware of falling down hidden holes in the peat which are sometimes covered in heather and not easy to see.
After visiting the crash site I would suggest you carry on straight until you reach the stream/river which runs into Woodhead reservoir. When you have reached this spot you can follow the path down to the Longdendale Trail near the Woodhead Tunnels. Then you can head back along the trail which is far easier going than going back over the high ground from where you have descended.
This walk is about eight miles in total and I would advise against attempting it on a very warm day because it would be easy to end up with sunstroke due to the exposed nature of the terrain. I would also advise against attempting this walk if it is wet or icy as the conditions can become treacherous due to slippy rocks.
Finally, do remember this is a site of tragic loss as well as a site of genuine historical interest. Under no circumstances should anyone remove any objects to take home as souvenirs. This is a war grave and to remove any objects for selfish reasons would not only deprive future generations of discovering this site but it would also be an insult to the dead.