Walking Wednesday – An Old World War II Crash Sight at Garreg Goch
By Mark Soanes, Call of the Wild.
Crashed World War II Wellington Bomber, Garreg Goch.
This weeks walking Wednesday is something quite different, it comes from Mark Soanes, Call of the Wild. It’s an unusual walk in the Brecon Beacons to the site of a crashed Wellington Bomber.
To get there from Brecon take A40, drive towards to Sennybridge, before going into Sennybridge turn off onto the A4067. Follow the road for about 14 miles until you get to Glyntawe. Find an appropriate place to park and follow the walking path signs. Grid Ref: SN817168.
We are always looking for walks in the Brecon Beacons to take our groups on. I know many others do the same. There are many natural and man-made features which provide no end of interest to various walkers who visit the area. One aspect of the Park which is little known is that it has over 30 aircraft crash sites. The stunning mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park attract all those who love walking in the hills but few see it’s darker and more sinister side.
Today, at many sites, there is little or no evidence of wreckage and crash sites can be found only by map reference and individual story. The crash site of Wellington Bomber MF509, at Garreg Goch (Red Stone), in the western Beacons, (Grid Ref: SN817168) still has a great deal of wreckage to see and is worth a visit.
On the night of 20th November 1944, Wellington MF509 on a cross-country exercise, developed trouble in the starboard engine and flew into shower clouds, building up heavy layers of ice on the wings. With insufficient power from the port engine, the aircraft lost height and crashed into Garreg Goch killing all six Canadian crew members. All the Crew were interred with full military honours, at the Canadian War Cemetery at Blacon, Chester, England. Wreckage is scattered over a wide area, with the main wheel being a very long way from the main site near the River Giedd. Until recently, the Canadian families of the crew, new nothing of the circumstances or location of the crash, nor of the existence of the memorial plaque that now stands at Garreg Goch.
In 2005, the photograph of an airman, found at the site in 1944, was placed on the Internet in an effort to identify him. This stimulated a cooperation between McGill University in Montreal, Canada and the people of the Swansea Valley. Only then, some 60 years later, did the families know the specific fate of their loved ones and of the plane. The crash site is in a remote and lonely spot and not easy to access above the upper Swansea Valley. In May 2006, a climb to the site, was undertaken by representatives from McGill University, surviving family members of the crew and people from the Swansea Valley. Later, in November of that year, McGill University established a display detailing Wellington MF509’s story. This site is well worth a visit.