Whitley Crash Forres – and Forres Airfields.

A few years ago I was contact by a family whose father (Phil) was born 6 weeks after his father was killed in an aircraft crash on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms during the war.

Info – An Lurg Wellington Crash – 14 August 1944 This aircraft a Vickers Wellington HF16/A of 20 OTU took off from RAF Lossiemouth on a cross – country training Exercise and crashed on the plateau on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms. All 6 crew were sadly killed.

It was an emotional day as a few pals and I took Phil and his 2 sons to the crash site. Phil was 70 then and I was recovering from some serious medical problems.    Phil had read of my visits to these remote crash sites and it was a humbling day for us all.  We became good friends.

Later on Phil was on a holiday and met a friend who wanted information of a crash in a nearby town Forres and asked me to check out the memorial’s and see what state they were in. He had visited a few years before.

Forres was the home of 19 Operation Training Unit (OTU ) Forres had a big airfield during the war and many bomber crews were trained here sadly there were many losses of life. Twenty Six Whitley’s crashed during training and 55 aircrew died.

One of the crashes was: The Whitley Crash Forres Tollboth Street.

Tolbooth memorial needs a clean I will give it one next time in town.

But the most poignant reference on the new memorial is to the Whitley aircraft which crashed into the heart of Forres in November, 1940, killing all on board. The Tolbooth Street tragedy is marked by an outline drawing of the aircraft involved and a technical description of the type which flew almost constantly from RAF Forres until October, 1944.

FG OFF J F Painter DFC

SGT H.D. Gaywood

SGT S.P. Gallagher

SGT F.W. Lewis.

SGT R. E Rolison SGT F.S Legge

The Whitley Memorial – Commemorative model of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was made by apprentices of Varis Engineering and erected in 2010. There is also an information plaque with more details of the airfield and aircraft.

Sadly it needs some TLC.

Lots of corrosion needing fixed?

The site also saw post-war service until 1947 as a billet for elements of the Polish Army.

Their is a plaque and a memorial placed near the site of the crash and a model of the Whitley is off the A96 on the way to Nairn. The cost of manufacturing the plaque was met by funds left over from the original RAF Forres Whitley Memorial Trust and passed to the Forres Heritage Trust in addition to generous donations from the public.

“The Forres Heritage Trust are delighted to have been involved in helping create a link to some of the rich RAF heritage that Forres enjoyed for more than 70 years,” said Mr Duncan. The inauguration was attended by a number of people following the Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying ceremony at the Balnageith memorial, including the Deputy Lieutenant of Moray Seymour Munro, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Sturrock, CO of 39 Engineer Regiment, and his Regimental Sergeant Major, officers and local community leaders.

Maybe someone could sort out the memorial as its sad to see it corroded?

Forres footpath trust has an excellent pdf on this and other memorials in the town and how to see them.

I went into town on the way to the hill and tried to clean up the brass memorial. It’s very pitted by weather sadly.

For more information http://www.griffon.clara.net/19/welcome.htm

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, History, Local area and events to see. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Whitley Crash Forres – and Forres Airfields.

  1. Phil Paterson says:

    Thankyou Heavy for all the good work that you do in connection with memorials of aircrashes in Scotland. This is another excellent story of a past tragedy and how it is still commemorated today. I am sure my friend’s friend, whose father died in the Tolbooth Street crash in Forres, will be very appreciative when he gets to see a copy of this post.

    Best regards, Phil


    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a shame the memorials are decaying, lets hope some salvation can be found for them.

    Liked by 1 person

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