Remembering 1944 and a plane crash in Mid Cheshire

We have been asked by John Christopher, of Norfolk, about a plane crash which occurred in 1944 in the Cheshire village of Hartford, near Northwich. This has prompted the following account to be submitted:

The plane crash referred to by John Christopher was extensively researched by the
local newspaper in 1970. One account of the crash stated:

The aircraft that crashed in Hartford village was a twin engined Albemarle bomber. It had flown over twice, at very low altitude, skimming the the roof tops, in fact, and on the third pass struck the chimney of a house. A Mrs Hodson lived there. One of the crew members was Gerry Crowe who lived a few doors away from Mrs Hodson; he was killed in the crash.

After hitting the chimney the aircraft continued over Chester Road, knocking the tops off trees, and came to rest around the wall opposite the village shops and parish church.

On impact with the ground the gun turret was thrown out and catapulted into Chester Road.

A passing American serviceman ripped open the burning turret and rescued the gunner, an Australian named “Sandy”. He was taken into a nearby cottage until the ambulance came. He was badly burned, but survived.

One engine of the plane was thrown out by the crash and landed only inches away from a baby in a pram. The baby was unharmed but there was panic when it seemed that a young village lad was found to be missing and was thought to be under the wreckage. In fact, he had run away from home and was later picked up by the police.

So that was the story...but it was curious. As the Editor of the local newspaper, the Northwich Guardian, stated:

“General opinion locally has it the plane was flying low over the area because the wife of one of the crew lived in Hartford. She insisted, however, that the plane had engine trouble and was, in fact, looking for somewhere to land. In 30 years of journalism I have investigated a lot of strange stories and coincidences, but I must say, it seems the height of coincidence that a plane based in Derbyshire happens to choose a spot in the middle of Cheshire, where a relative lives, to have engine trouble.”

For the record, the pilot was a Canadian and the flying officer’s name was Ormiston. With Gerry Crowe, they both perished in the crash.

Judge for yourself if it was, indeed, all a coincidence, or a madcap escapade that went tragically wrong.

If anyone can shed further light on the mysterious Hartford air crash, please email the Editor.