Halifax Celebrates Anniversary of Tragic Bomber Crash

There were nine deaths in the tragic crash of a bomber from Halifax that occurred seven decades ago. When the engine of bomber JP137 went out, it nosedived into the road and killed two civilians at the crash site as well as all of the crew members. The Halifax Royal Air Force craft was remembered in a wreath-laying ceremony which paid tribute to the crew as well as the lost civilians.

One of the lives lost belonged to a WWI veteran, Percy Chislett, who luckily died relative pain free, deep in his sleep when JP137 crashed into his house. One of his relatives, Susan Chislett, was present for the remembrance to honor her great uncle. The Halifax bomber held a big impact on the residents of those who lost family, or even to those who were residents of the town. The anniversary marked one of the largest events in their lives, and many felt it was absolutely necessary that regard be shown to those who were involved in the horrific incident.

Halifax bomber JP137 had just left the Royal Air Force base at Hurn just prior to the crash, and it was not long after that the plane started to experience its engine troubles. When the engine finally died completely, the crew did their best to stabilize and as a result only narrowly killed the two ground victims as the crew attempted to pull away from overly inhabited areas, the Daily Echo reports.

The residents of Bournemouth have seen tragedy in their pasts before, having been home to the bombing of Metropole Hotel. They note a profound difference between the tragedy of the hotel and that of the Halifax bomber, namely in the fact that one was intentional while the other was not. When the bomber left the Hurn airbase around midnight on March 21, 1944, the crew had anticipated a much longer flight, having been set to fly for Morocco. They never got a chance to engage in their mission, which many supposed to have been handed down by the Special Operations Executive due to the slim amount of information released on the flight.

With Sergeant Dennis Evans in the cockpit during the crash, he would have been seen as the cause of the tragedy if not for extensive research showing that the plane had several flaws in its design. The investigation carried through multiple decades before Evans was cleared of any suspicion regarding the fate of the Halifax bomber, and he is among those honored by the recent commemoration ceremony.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE