People pay their respects (MNH)
This is the story of two people whose lives were changed forever when a plane travelling from the Isle of Man in 1958 crashed into the side of a mountain near Bolton in England.
It was February 27 1958 and 4 year old Howard Callow had been given the day off school due to a childhood illness.
His mum was downstairs making him a hot drink and his dad was away on business.
Despite feeling a little poorly, Howard was enjoying being at home in bed listening to the radio.
All was peaceful until a news bulletin came on air which was to change the young boy’s life forever.
“I was lying in bed and I heard the announcement from the BBC that reports had started to come in of a plane crash near Manchester.
The front of the Silver City Plane
I was aware that my father had gone on a plane that morning to Manchester so I shouted to my mother and that started the whole chain of events which led to her finding out that my father was dead.”
Howard’s father was one of 35 Manxmen who were killed in the plane crash which happened when a plane from the Isle of Man crashed into Winter Hill in Lancashire, after it went off course en route to Manchester.
Wreckage of the Winter Hill crash
The Silver City Airways plane was taking a group of Island businessmen, including engineers, technicians, service station owners and salesmen to a Battery factory but the group, most of whom knew each other well, never arrived in Manchester.
It was thought at the time that the Bristol Wayfarer aircraft cart-wheeled in midair after hitting the mountain in a storm.
There was no fire at the accident scene and a few survivors miraculously walked free of the wreckage.
Fred Kennish from Douglas was not one of them.
Aircraft remains on Winter Hill
“I remember the journey down to the airport. We were all laughing and joking. The last thing I remember was being on the plane and taking a puff of a cigarette.
Then everything went black. I do not remember anymore but I have heard lots of stories from people who rescued us.
The emergency crew who were called out to Winter Hill only had two stretchers. I was the first person they came across and my injuries were so bad they assumed I was dead.
They straightened me up into the dead position and left me there while they dealt with the others who were showing signs of life.
The next thing I remember is being in the ambulance when I was having difficulty breathing. I had punctured my lung and it felt like I had a hole in my back.
Every time I took a breath in it felt like the air was leaving my body through my back.
Aircraft remains on Winter Hill
The doctors couldn’t believe I survived the crash. Nearly every bone in my body was broken and my ribs were all smashed. My scalp was ripped back from my face, both my collar bones and shoulder blades were broken and my spine was fractured in three places.
Apparently my leg was only just hanging on and later they thought they would have to amputate but luckily it was avoidable.
They had to carry me down the mountainside on a stretcher with snow drifts and frozen bogs everywhere. They must have had a hell of a job getting us to hospital.
When they did get me to the hospital I was given the last rights a couple of times and then to everyone’s surprise I started to get better.
When I came round I was in the same room as my business partner, Crosby who also survived.
We worked out that there must have been a plane crash but they doctors did not tell us how many people were already dead. I just assumed the others were in a different ward.
It was a week later before we found out that so many people had been killed. That was a real blow because we knew everyone on that plane. I worked with them every day. We were all a close knit family.”
Funeral procession after Winter Hill
Speaker of the House of Keys at the time was Sir Joseph Qualtrough. He said in a message broadcast in the BBC news on the evening of the crash, “This day will long be remembered on the Island as Black Thursday. This holiday Island is tonight a place of gloom”
This month, 50 years on, we remember those who died and all the families affected.
last updated: 20/03/2008 at 14:12
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Ian Melrose Hill
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