- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Evelyn and Catherine Mabel Ross
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 October 2005
On the night of 26th November 1943 Catherine Ross and her younger sister Evelyn set off for the dance in Pocklington, about a mile and a half from their parents home at Canal Head. Coming home in the early hours they always listened for the aircraft returning to the nearby airfield at Pocklington where their father Ernest was a night watchman.
ED 393 VN-K was a Lancaster Bomber based with 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire;they were returning to base from a raid on Berlin but were diverted to land at Pocklington and fog in the vale of York area made landing all the more hazardous.
The first landing had to be aborted so they skirted over Pocklington and then turned southward towards the small hamlet of Canal Head which staggered the main Hull to York road. As the aircraft flew south towards the canal a wing caught the tree tops to the rear of the Wellington Oak pub and sent the aircraft careering out of control, it clipped the roof of a farmhouse next to the pub before plunging into the upstairs of a house across the road.
Ramsdale Terrace was a row of 10 cottages situated at the western end of the Wellington Oak pub carpark, diagonally across the road from the canal after which the hamlet was named. At number 7 Evelyn and Cath were getting ready for bed, Evelyn had already climbed in but looked up towards her sister at the window when she heard the trinkets on the dressing table shaking. She at first assumed it was Cath applying her facecream that had caused the dresser to shake, but then Cath suddenly stood up and opened the blackout and the room lit up with the glow from outside. They were both at the window now and could see the flames had engulfed what was left of the upstairs of Mrs Bird's house which was next to the canal. As Cath tried to make out what had happened Evelyn ran to get their father who wasn't working that night.
Ernest pulled on a pair of trousers and a jacket and ran down the stairs calling back to his daughters to get into the air raid shelter in case there were any unexploded bombs.
By the time Evelyn got back to the bedroom window all she could do was scream as she watched her father run across the road and straight through the front door of Mrs Birds house. They dressed quickly and ran down the stairs and out of the front door towards the shelter which was situated at the end of the terrace near the pub. As they neared the shelter they could see their father sitting on the steps of the pub cradling a man in his arms who was obviously in great pain. Mr Blades, the Landlord, had also gone into the house to try and rescue anyone he could. The girls would later learn that 5 of the aircrew had died as a result of the crash along with Mrs Bird and her lodger Mr Hopkinson.
Days later when the crash debris had been removed little was left of the upper front of the house, but in one corner of what used to be Mrs Bird's bedroom a solitary table stood defiantly supporting a plant displayed upon it.
The full list of casualties is as follows
Pilot Officer Joseph Watson Thompson aged 20
Flight Engineer Reginald Walter Laws aged 20
Navigator Stanley Chapman aged 22
Air-Bomber John Ralph Conlon aged 21
Air-Gunner Allan Douglas Spiers aged 29
Sgt C.B.Corbett (inj)
Sgt T.A.Wyllie (inj)
Gertrude Bird aged 69
Percy Paulucy Hopkinson aged 41
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