As Bournemouth is a relatively new town, it is easy to walk down the streets of Bournemouth oblivious to some of the historic events that took place on the very spot you might be walking on, but are locked in the passage of time.
One such event took place just after midnight on March 21st 1944 when a RAF Halifax bomber took off from Hurn Airport destined for the Mediterranean Allied Air Force Base at Rabat in Morocco. Just after takeoff it experienced a major engine failure over Bournemouth, plunged to the ground and exploded on the corner of Meadow Court Close and Wimborne Road. All seven crew were killed along with two civilians who were asleep in their beds.
67 years later a small group of Moordown residents committed themselves to recognising this event as part of the town's bicentennial celebrations. On Sunday 10th of July 2011, in front of relatives of the survivors, representatives of the RAF, the Mayor of Bournemouth, the media and a large gathering of Moordown residents both old and young, a short service of dedication took place unveiling the Moordown Halifax Memorial.
Due to the mists of time the Halifax often plays second fiddle to its sister aircraft the Lancaster Bomber yet its contribution to the war effort is arguably more remarkable. For although both were used as long range bombers, the more versatile Halifax was also used in glider operations (such as the D Day landings), agent dropping, reconnaissance and coastal command. Its maiden flight took place just 21 days after war had been declared and over 6,000 were built with one being completed every hour at the height of the war.
The Halifax carried out over 82,000 missions during the war. Thanks to this new memorial one of those missions will not be forgotten.
Names of the seven air crew of Halifax Bomber JP 137:
Sgt Denis R Evans - Pilot
Sgt Henry W Roberts - Navigator
F/O Stanley A Appleton - B/A
Sgt George A Alexander - W/Op
Sgt Stanley F Gent - F/E
Sgt Kenneth Green - A/G
Sgt Reginald R McGregor A/G
Names of the residents killed:
Mrs Dorothea Bennett - Flat 9 Meadow Court
Mr Percy F Chislett - 1027 Wimborne Road
With special thanks to the commitment and inspiration of former Bournemouth East MP David Atkinson, Cllr Sue Anderson and Mary McRobie and members of the Moordown 2010 committee without whose hard work this project could not have been completed.