Basle air crash: Memorial service marks 40th anniversary

A special memorial service is held in woodland in Switzerland to mark the 40th anniversary of the Basle air crash
Image caption Relatives of those who died travelled to Basle to mark the anniversary

A special memorial service has been held in the Swiss woodland where 108 people, mostly women, died in a plane crash 40 years ago.

The plane, which had taken off from Bristol, came down in the mountains outside Basle during a snowstorm on 10 April 1973.

The flight - Invicta Airlines Flight 435 - was full of mothers from Somerset on a day out shopping.

Relatives of those who died travelled to the site to mark the anniversary.

Those on board were mainly from Congresbury, Axbridge, Cheddar and Yatton.

Anglican Chaplain in Basle, the Rev Geoff Read, led the 20-minute service with around 14 relatives and a number of local people from the Swiss city.

Sue Cooke, from Congresbury, lost 11 members of her family including her parents, her grandmother and her mother's sister, whose two children were also killed.

'Tragic day'

"Whenever we come here usually the sun is shining and there is always an aeroplane that goes over, right at the very quiet time which makes it all so real," she said.

The names of some of those who lost their lives were read out and Ruth Iles-Spencer, Mrs Cooke's aunt, spoke during the service.

Afterwards she said: "I was feeling very much a sense of peace and God's presence in this lovely service that we've had.

"It was very personal and it was very sensitive."

Image caption The accident, on 10 April 1973, claimed 108 lives

Jude Phillips lost her 58-year-old mother and younger sister, 21, in the crash which occurred as the plane made a second attempt to land during poor visibility.

Ms Phillips, from Frome, said: "I was thinking about my mum, Alison, and my friend, and just sort of seeing them there in the snow and what it was like, it just brings it all back - the emotion.

"I felt very sad, but so glad I came back this time."

Somerset's communities were devastated after dozens of men lost their wives and more than 40 children lost their mothers in the tragedy.

It was the third annual outing for members of Axbridge Ladies Guild, who were joined by women from Cheddar Mums' Night Out group, skittles players from Wrington and Congresbury, plus friends and relatives.

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