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15 October 2014
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Mosquito glue invented in Ewell - Was it a Mosquito that crashed on the Downs?

by epsomandewelllhc

Contributed by 
People in story: 
William Meredith and Dr Yarstey
Location of story: 
Ewell, Surrey
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 November 2005

The author of this story has understood the rules and regulations of this site and has agreed that this story can be entered on the People’s War web site.
Mosquito glue invented in Ewell
Was it a Mosquito that crashed othe Downs?

Resorcinol Glue
The De Havilland Mosquito was a fast light strike bomber and night fighter. It was built by the furniture industry, which was mostly based at its traditional centre in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. One of the fastest and most successful aircraft of WW2, it was the reason that High Wycombe was one of the most heavily bombed London suburb towns.

There had been many planes made of wood, in fact most were until the advent of the middle twenties. The big difference with the Mosquito was it was made of plywood laminate, a much stronger material. This was made possible by the invention of waterproof glue. Before then plywood de-laminated when wet.

The glue was Resorcinol; it was dark red with a bad smell and I used it when I was building the Eventide yacht alongside our house in Higher Green, Ewell. Resorcinol glue was invented by Dr. Yarstey of Yarstey Laboratories in West Ewell. He and his Swiss German wife together with their daughter Rosemary lived in one of the houses at the top of The Green. We were at number 63. Rosemary and my sister Jane were best friends as both attended The Convent of the Sacred Heart In Dorking Road, now a hotel. We saw a lot of the Yarsteys.

The German company Messerschmitt also tried to produce a twin engined fighter-bomber made of plywood, but it was unsuccessful as their glue was not satisfactory.

Plane crash on Epsom Downs
There have been several stories and rumours about a De Havilland Mosquito crashing on Epsom Downs in September/October 1943.

The Mosquito did not appear until about the middle or end of 1943. By that time Epsom Downs was cordoned off. It was turned into a vehicle park for the gathering invasion forces for June the 6th, D Day. It was also the centre for the Canadian Army element of the invasion forces who were billeted in the Grandstand and surrounding buildings.

If an aircraft crashed there we would not have known about it, such was the secrecy of what was going-on on the downs at the time. Nobody from the public would have got near.

If wood was seen at the crash site and it was plywood, highly recognisable, then it was a Mosquito. If not, then it might have been an Avro Anson, but also a Hawker Hurricane, of which there were plenty about or, indeed, an Airspeed Oxford, similar to an Anson, all of which wore of similar construction. Indeed the Hurricane had a certain amount of wood in it for fairing the fuselage, but not plywood. So the question to provide an answer to is, if wood was there was it plywood?

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