Service commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the Pogmoor plane crash

6 01 2014
Message from Simon Hollingworth
Sgt Alex Hollingworth RAAF

Sgt Alex Hollingworth RAAF

The following message was received on 6th January, 2014, from Simon Hollingworth, a close relative of Alex Hollingworth, the RAAF pilot who stayed with his plane to steer it clear of housing and was killed as it crashed in Pogmoor

“Dear Marlene, Barry, Tom, Annabell, Brenda, David, Pauline and all the kind people at Pogmoor Road, thank you so much for the honour you bestow upon the young airmen of Pogmoor.

I really can’t thank you with any words sufficient to express our gratitude. Your efforts every year to honour the fallen airmen of Pogmoor is amazing. I will contact Alex Hollingworth’s surving brother today and read him the service. He is so touched by your ongoing tributes each year. I have no words to explain our feelings. You are the most wonderful people.

As I mentioned to Marlene in a past email. Alex’s death at Pogmoor has a spooky twist. A branch of our family appears to have lived at Old Barnsley circa 1620. Later in 1660, a direct relative, John Hollingworth owned the lands at Pogmoor along with an ancestor to William Wordsworth the poet. So in a strange way, Alex died at a place that has significant meaning to our family.

Again, thank you. We will be with in you in spirit today.
Cheers
Simon Hollingworth”

Pictures from the service

 

Dan Jarvis, MP, pays tribute to the young pilot

Dan Jarvis, MP, pays tribute to the young pilot

The Mayor, Coun Ken Richardson addresses the service

The Mayor, Coun Ken Richardson addresses the service

Coun Penny Lofts congratulates the Residents' Association and the Royal British Legion for organising the srvice

Coun Penny Lofts congratulates the Residents’ Association and the Royal British Legion for organising the service

Tom Parnham, Pogmoor Residents' vice-chair, remembers the loss of life in WW1 in its centenary year
Tom Parnham, Pogmoor Residents’ vice-chair, remembers the loss of life in WW1 in its centenary year

 

 

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Aircraft crash in Cresswell quarry – the story of an ‘unsung hero’

26 12 2011

On 6th January, 1942 at 10.10 am, an RAF Whitley bomber aircraft crashed into the clay pit quarry behind Cresswell Street, Pogmoor.  This was one of three Whitley bombers from 102 Squadron that took off from RAF Dalton, near Thirsk at approximately 4.30 am,  on a mission to bomb the docks at Cherbourg, France.

When the bombers reached France, there was too much cloud cover over the port.  They had been instructed to return to base without dropping the bombs as it was not possible to see the target of the mission. The lead aircraft. Z9289, developed engine problems over France and the pilot decided to switch off one of the two engines to prevent it catching on fire.

When the aircraft reached the English coast, it had the opportunity to land at the nearest aerodrome. However, the pilot must have decided to fly back to their home base in Dalton instead. As the plane passed over Derbyshire, it must have been clear to the crew that the aircraft was losing height too quickly.   They jettisoned the payload of bombs over the moors to the south of Sheffield.  When the aircraft reached Barnsley, the pilot tried to restart the faulty engine, presumably to try and gain extra height.  Unfortunately, this engine then burst into flames.

The bomber had a crew of five:

Pilot: Sgt Alexander Hollingworth, Royal Australian Air Force, aged 22, from Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Australia

Second pilot: Sgt John HazeldineRoyal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Observer: Sgt E BrainRoyal Canadian Air Force

Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner:  Sgt Alexander Buchanan, Royal Canadian Air Force, aged 23, from North Battleford, Canada

Air Gunner: Sgt Leonard Jackson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, from Birmingham

Three of the crew (Jackson, Brain and Hazeldene)  bailed out as the plane flew over Locke Park and then Dodworth Road.  Buchanan made his escape too late.  He jumped out as the aircraft passed over the railway track on the south side of West Road. He got entangled with the chimney of the refuse incinerator and was killed.

According to witness accounts, the pilot, Alexander Hollingworth, now on his own, endevoured to make sure the aircraft missed the rows of terraced houses in that area.  The plane crashed in Cresswell Quarry, just off Cresswell Street.  The pilot was killed.

Postscript

The two crew who died on this mission, Sgts Hollingworth and Buchanan, are both buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Doncaster. Sgt Hazeldine was killed on operations later in the same month on 26th January.  Sgt Jackson was killed on operations on 24th September 1942. Sgt Brain is not listed in the casualty records from the Second World War, so it is assumed he was the only one who survived the war.

The act of bravery outlined above was researched by local historian, Andrew Totty in 1985.  As a result of his efforts, a plaque commemorating this flight was placed on the house that now stands where the bomber crashed and Sgt Hollingworth died.  This ceremony took place on the eve of the 44th anniversary of the crash.
Pogmoor Area Residents’ Association commemorated  the seventieth anniversary in a ceremony on 6th January, 2012.

We are grateful to A. Totty for permission to reproduce the images shown on this page.  The sources on which the content is based include:

Footnote

The propellor, plane parts and crew documents have been donated to the People’s Museum, Barnsley.  This museum is due to open in 2012.  In the meantime, you can follow the museum on Twitter  @PeoplesMusuem