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Airmen killed in plane explosion above Doncaster school honoured

The fuselage of the plane in the school playground. Photo: Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.

The fuselage of the plane in the school playground. Photo: Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.

Two airmen who died when their plane smashed into a school playground 60 years ago have been honoured at the unveiling of a memorial.

Scores of children had a lucky escape when the English Electric Canberra broke up in mid air above Warmsworth Primary School on June 24, 1954, scattering debris and killing RAF men Gp Capt Richard Gates, 40, and Flt Lt Peter Oliver, 32, instantly.

The fuselage of the aircraft, which was on a training flight, smashed into the ground just minutes after children had returned to their classrooms after lunch break.

Now Peter Brownlow, who was a seven-year-old pupil at at the time has helped to unveil a memorial plaque outside the school with the help of Warmsworth Parish Council.

He said: “I can remember hearing a massive bang and the teachers telling us all to take cover under our desks.

“We found out later that the plane had broken apart and most of it came down in the playground. It is a miracle that more people weren’t killed.”

The event was attended by the son of Flt Lt Gates.

 

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