RAF bomber crash, Bwlchgwyn. 1943

by Annette Edwards.

During the Second World War, an RAF bomber crashed onto the hillside between Bwlchgwyn and Rhydtalog, killing all eight men on board. See below for their details.
If you are at Bwlchgwyn war memorial, the crash site is almost straight ahead of you, 1.5km (one mile) away.

The aircraft was an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley LA766 heavy bomber. It was on a training flight from RAF Tilstock in Whitchurch, Shropshire, when it crashed at about 8.45pm on the night of 11 January 1943.

Fred Edwards, a child at the time, recalled in 2017 that he and his family heard the noise of a low-flying plane, seemingly in trouble. When people realised the plane had crashed they couldn’t find the local policeman, it was his night off. Fred’s father George had one of the few cars in the village. With two other men, he went to the crash site via Llanarmon Road. After walking up the hill they found the plane on fire and George thought he saw snow floating above the flames (probably ash). One airman was still alive (probably Alex Taylor Strachan) so they improvised a stretcher from a piece of the wreckage, put him in the car and began to drive to Wrexham hospital. The airman died by the Gegin corner. An officer from RAF Sealand visited George a few days later and, rather than thanking him for his efforts, said he shouldn’t have moved the airman.

The airmen who died
Robert Smeaton, aged 28. Son of John and Freda Smeaton, of Canons Park, Edgware, Middlesex. Buried at Ruabon Road Cemetery. Grave no: 09752.
Ronald James Binham, aged 20. Son of Harry and Florence May Binham, of Brynmill, Swansea. Buried at Ruabon Road Cemetery. Grave No: 09510.
William H Stewart, aged 28. Son of James Moore Stewart and Annie Wright Stewart, of Nordegg, Alberta, Canada. Buried at Ruabon Road Cemetery. Grave No: 09512.
David Rozell Roberts, aged 21. Son of Cecil Rozell Roberts and Barbara Clarke Roberts; husband of Margaret Roberts, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Buried at Ruabon Road Cemetery. Grave No: 09645.
Alex Taylor Strachan, aged 19. Son of Robert Alexander and Mary H Strachan, of Edinburgh. Buried at Edinburgh (Seafield) Crematorium.
Cyril Edgar Aaron, aged 20. Son of Edgar and Eliza Aaron, of llford, London. Buried at City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, Manor Park.
David Blackburn Lister, aged 18. Son of Sam Blackburn Lister and Jennie Lister, of Catford, London. Buried at Golcar Baptist Chapelyard, Yorkshire.
Michael John Buckle, aged 20. Son of Edward and Florence Hilda Buckle, of York. Buried at York Cemetery, Yorkshire.


The following are all in relation to Robert Smeaton.


Sources: Annette Edwards; historypoints.org; Graham Lloyd.