Remote ceremony to mark wartime plane tragedy

RELATIVES of a young RAF pilot who died when his plane crashed in a remote Northumberland valley almost 68 years ago yesterday attended an emotional ceremony held to commemorate his wartime loss.

RELATIVES of a young RAF pilot who died when his plane crashed in a remote Northumberland valley almost 68 years ago yesterday attended an emotional ceremony held to commemorate his wartime loss.

Pilot Officer Martin Walter Rivers, 24, perished when his Hawker Hurricane stalled and crashed at Meggrim’s Knowe near Linhope in the Breamish Valley, while he carried out low-flying manoeuvres during a solo training flight from RAF Ouston in April 1941.

Yesterday an inscribed metal plaque commemorating his death was officially unveiled and dedicated in a ceremony held at the crash site, a windswept patch of rising ground overlooked by the nearby hills and about two miles from the valley road.

There was a fly past by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer trailing the RAF ensign, a bugler played the Last Post and Canon Bob Burston of Ingram said prayers and dedicated the memorial plaque. The ceremony was attended by Pilot Officer Rivers’s niece Naomi Kenny and her husband Brendan, who live in Berwick, and his nephew Simon Colverson, his wife Christine and son Graeme, from Cambridge.

The idea for a memorial plaque on the site came originally from local historian and farmer Sarah Wilson, who lives at Ingram Farm in the Breamish Valley, and Chris Davies of North Shields, who is part of the Air Crash Investigation and Archaeology Group which locates crash sites.

By an amazing coincidence, Simon Colverson then got in touch with Chris by email after they had both accessed the same RAF website containing details of Pilot Officer Rivers’s death.

Simon and his cousin Naomi both knew that the crash happened in Northumberland, but wrongly believed the plane had come down near Amble, until Chris and Sarah were able to put them right. When they heard about the plans for a plaque on the site they asked to get involved, and Chris was able to rope in RAF Boulmer and its commanding officer to make yesterday’s ceremony extra special.

Last night Naomi, of Lovaine Terrace, Berwick, said: “Today’s ceremony was wonderful, fulfilling and satisfying, and provided closure for Simon and myself. We always believed Martin had died near Amble but now we have been to the site where the accident actually happened.

“Chris Davies and Sarah Wilson deserve tremendous praise because they have worked so hard to make today’s event perfect.”

Sarah, who wrote and published a book about the Breamish Valley and Ingram in 2005, said: “It was just an amazing and emotional occasion. Just to see the place where it happened was important for the family, and it is good to remember these things, which otherwise might be forgotten.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer