Video: Farm with grim past goes up for sale

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A protected farm landscape which was the scene of a fatal aircraft crash 63 years ago is being sold at auction, and its owner is urging any new incumbent to respect the land’s tragic heritage.

Farmer Chris Greensit, 79, is selling Crabtree Farm in Maunby, Thirsk near the River Wiske because of his senior age, and it is his wish that the aircraft, which was lost for decades, should not be searched for or disturbed as a matter of respect to the pilot and the navigator who were killed in the crash.

Chris Greensit at the scene of the 1951 air crash. Picture by Simon Hulme

Chris Greensit at the scene of the 1951 air crash. Picture by Simon Hulme

According to historical records, it was during a routine night-time training exercise on 18 October 1951 that the aircraft, a De Havilland Mosquito RL230, ran into the slipstream of a target aircraft as the crew practised interceptions.

The pilot lost control and the aircraft impacted heavily on the ground.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) records show that those who died in the accident were pilot Flight Lieutenant M A Woodley of No. 264 Squadron stationed at RAF Linton on Ouse, and navigator Flying Officer A J Hart.

According to the MoD, the remains of the men were recovered from Crabtree Farm and Flt Lt Woodley was cremated at Kent County Crematorium, while Fg Off Hart is buried at Newton on Ouse Parish Churchyard near York.

But not all the debris was extracted from the site, with the plane’s wreckage understood to largely remain buried beneath the soil.

Mr Greensit, who took on the farm when his father died, said that the precise location of where the aircraft crash landed was lost for decades before fragments of the downed plane re-emerged recently.

The farmer said: “A couple of aeroplane enthusiasts came about five or six years ago with metal detectors and found a bit of wire from the plane.

“Planes at that time were mostly made of wood and they also found a bit of blue wood that they believed belonged to the plane and so they marked the location – a dip in a grass field. After the crash, the site was filled in and left.”

Aviation enthusiasts are not the only people who have paid a visit to the farm in connection with the historical accident.

Mr Greensit also had unexpected visitors on the 50th anniversary of the crash, when a couple by the names Sylvia and James Brown called by.

“Three years since a woman and her husband came here and she said she was engaged to the pilot,” Mr Greensit said.

“She came from Kent and was on holiday in Yorkshire and decided to stop by. We showed her the site and she agreed it should be left how it is out of respect.”

Mr Greensit, who will carry on farming after the sale at nearby Castle Farm in Breckonborough, which he runs with his brother William, 76, has instructed North Yorkshire auctioneers Robin Jessop Ltd to sell Crabtree Farm next month.

Mr Greensit’s father originally purchased Crabtree Farm in 1950.

A small mixed farm, it runs to 105 acres and comes with sporting and fishing rights.

“We are getting older and there is only my brother and me – neither of us married,” Mr Greensit said. “I’m 80 next month, that’s why we are packing up.”

The public auction will be held at Allerton Court Hotel, Northallerton on Wednesday, October 1 at 7pm.