Aldborough: Yorkshire helicopter crash village was the site of a wartime RAF tragedy

The village of Aldborough was in shock yesterday after a helicopter came down in a farmer's field, killing pilot and Lord-Lieutenant for North Yorkshire Barry Dodd.

But it is not the first time the small village near Boroughbridge has been the site of an aviation disaster.

Man killed in Aldborough helicopter crash named as Barry Dodd CBEDuring World War Two, Aldborough was at the epicentre of RAF activity as the flat Vale of York was chosen as the location for several airfields.

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In February 1944, seven airmen aboard a Lancaster bomber died when their plane crashed near Aldborough during a training flight.

The aircraft belonged to the Royal Canadian Air Force's 432 Squadron, who were based at RAF Eastmoor, near Sutton-on-the-Forest. Five of the crew were Canadian, but two were RAF, including Flight Sergeant Kenneth Huggins, 20, from Bradford.

Biography: Barry Dodd CBEThe plane had caught fire and was losing height, but the pilot heroically managed to avoid the village and ditch on Studforth Hill, a short distance to the south. They had been trying to find a landing strip without turning the aircraft around, but were unsuccessful when attempting to land at RAF Dishforth.

Two of the crew managed to bail out of the stricken Lancaster but they were too close to the ground for their parachutes to open and they were killed on impact.

The villagers recognised the crew's actions and erected a memorial to the men in 1994. It was re-dedicated during a ceremony in 2014 on the 70th anniversary of the crash.

Aidan Foster, 84, who lives in Aldborough, was 10 when the crash happened but still vividly remembers seeing the wreckage of the plane the following day.

“How the heck the pilot managed to escape hitting the village - the village had a lot to be thankful for,” he said.

“If it had crashed in the village it could have killed a lot of people.”

Six of the crew were buried at Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate, and Huggins' body was returned to Bradford.