It is not my intention to dwell too much on air disasters in this blog, but while I was thinking about the explosion aboard Viking G-AIVL in 1950 (see an earlier post), I thought that I could probably write a little bit about an air crash which had a tangential effect on me personally.
When I was a small child, my parents told me the story of a Junkers that crashed in the Kent village of Meopham, a few miles from where we lived in Rochester. My great-grandfather was one of two village policemen in Meopham at the time. The way my father told the story, a German airliner, probably a Ju 52, crashed before the outbreak of the Second World War. There was a significant loss of life in the crash, which became known as the Meopham Air Disaster. The passengers were rich and their personal effects, including ladies’ jewellery, were scattered around the countryside. Not all the jewellery was recovered, and my great-grandfather and several other policemen who had been drafted in were ordered to secure the wreckage and personal belongings.
I later found out that it was a much older accident, that the machine in question was British, and that while the death toll was smaller, all aboard the aircraft had been killed.
Whilst I haven’t untangled all the threads of the story, especially relating to the passengers, there are a some very interesting facts which link the story of the Meopham crash to some notable events in British aviation and social history.
The Wikipedia Article summarizes what happened. “The Meopham Air Disaster occurred on 21 July 1930 when a Junkers F.13ge from Le Touquet to Croydon with two crew and four passengers crashed near Meopham, Kent, with the loss of all on board. The report of the inquiry into the accident were made public, the first time in the United Kingdom that an accident report had been published. The aircraft involved was Junkers F.13ge G-AAZK, c/n 2052.”
By another one of the strange coincidences of which I’m fond, the accident report, published in 1931, is still available in the collection of a library where I used to work in Kansas City. I suspect it’s probably the only copy in the United States. I looked it up on WorldCat and didn’t find many copies.
After a small amount of searching on the Web I found a few interesting, and in some cases downright weird snippets of information relating to the crash, which I hope to collate in further blog posts. I also wasn’t expecting to find new images – in fact I’d only ever seen one very grainy photograph, but ran across a YouTube video which was originally made by Pathe News. I will close this entry with that Pathe News newsreel.