Handley Page Hampden, Ballaragh, 27th March 1941

The Lieutenant Governor unveiling the plaqueOn Sunday 26th May 2002 the Lieutenant Governor unveiled a plaque commemorating the crash of an RAF light bomber in 1941. The unveiling was a result of almost 2 years of planning and effort.

On 27th March 1941 Sergeants Barclay, Case, Hankins and Harper took off from RAF Cottesmore on a routine navigation exercise which involved their crossing over the English coast at Southport, heading for the Point of Ayre. The slightest of errors saw their Handley Page Hampden aircraft reach the Island’s coast at Ballaragh, Lonan. Flying low in an attempt to stay below the worst of the weather, the limited visibility meant that they were unaware that they were heading straight for the high ground. It is quite possible that the first they knew of their predicament was the aircraft hitting the chimneys of the farmhouse owned by the Quilleash family. The aircraft broke up on impact, with one part destroying a dutch barn and another larger part severing a telegraph pole before hitting the ground. Ballaragh is 210m above sea level, but the aircraft would most likely have come to grief on the slopes of the mountain had it cleared the village. By some miracle Sergeant Harper survived the crash. This was the second time he had been the sole survivor of such an event.

The house was rebuilt by the RAF and in 2000 was bought by Nick Black and his wife Catherine. They were told about the crash on the day they moved in by their neighbour John Quilleash, who farms the land around as well as being the Coroner of Garff and Ayre. They were greatly assisted in their research and their subsequent plans to erect a memorial to the 3 victims by the Manx Aviation Preservation Society.  

Plaque erected to commemorate the fatal air crash