75th Anniversary of Downside Air Crash
16 May 2018
On 15th May Downside marked the 75th anniversary of the Downside Air Crash with a commemorative event to remember the 9 pupils of the school and the pilot who lost their lives that day.
On the afternoon of 15th May 1943 a Sea Hurricane based at RNAS Yeovilton crashed into the cricket pitch during a cricket match. 9 pupils, the youngest just 10 and the eldest only 16, lost their lives and many more were seriously injured whilst all present that day bore some mental scars of the event. The pilot of the plane, a 22 year old New Zealander was also killed.
75 years on, a commemorative event was held to mark the date and included a Mass in the Abbey church by Dom Boniface Hill, prayers at the graves of those who died in the monastic cemetery, a lunch and a small service at the cricket pavilion where a wreath was laid by the Head master of the school, Andrew Hobbs. A contingent of the Downside CCF was present and a pupil of the school played the last post before Lt. Tom Lennon from RNAS Yeovilton said a few words.
In attendance were 6 OGs who had been present on that day as well as relatives of those who died and also of boys who had been involved. The event was a sombre and moving remembrance of those who had died but it was also a chance for stories to be told and memories to be shared. The small exhibition of archive material on display was also a stark reminder of the tragedy which occurred that day.