Goodrich Castle
- War MemorialGloucester
Castle Lane
Goodrich
Ross-on-Wye
Herefordshire - HR9 6HY

 

In the Chapel of Goodrich Castle is a very unusual war memorial. It is a stained glass window commemorating the many service and civilian aircrews who lost their lives in radar development flying duties between 1936 and 1976.

This crucial wartime research was carried on at nearby Great Malvern and unfortunately, as part of that work, Goodrich was the location of a fatal air crash. It is entirely appropriate that Goodrich Castle’s Chapel has been chosen for a Memorial to those who worked on radar.

Importance of Radar
Nowadays radar is such a common part of our everyday life that we take it for granted. At the time of the Second World War the idea of radar was revolutionary and its subsequent development top secret. We owe a great deal to the brilliant young scientists and brave young aircrews that risked their lives testing and perfecting the system.
 
The Radar Research Squadron's parent establishment, created between 1935 and 1939, was the world's first radar managed defence system. It was fundamental to the Allies’ victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940, and one of the many British radar systems to transform air power and earn the nation's gratitude.
 
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Tragedy near Goodrich Castle
The 7th of June 1942 was a beautiful summer’s day – ideal for flying. At RAF Defford Halifax V9977 was preparing to embark on a top secret mission.
 
The object of the flight was to produce photographic images of the ground echoes from the radar as the aircraft flew over the Severn Estuary, the coastline and the towns of Cardiff and Swansea.
 
On board was the maximum number of passengers (11), a mixture of flying personnel and TRE/EMI scientists.
 
Nobody knows exactly what happened but it is believed the outside starboard engine of the Halifax caught fire and Pilot Officer Berrington was looking for flat land beyond the village of Goodrich to crash land. Amazingly, there was an eye-witness to the aircraft’s fiery end.
 
Onslow Kirby lived and worked on Green Farm on Coppet Hill. Around 16:20 he was in one of his paddocks when he heard the roar of a low flying aircraft coming from the direction of English Bicknor. Suddenly, an aircraft streaming fire and smoke from its starboard wing appeared. It was no more than 350 feet (106.7 metres) above his head, coming straight for him.
 
The fire was burning through the struts holding the wing on. As the wing fell off, the plane turned upside down and vertically dived into the ground, exploding and bursting into flame. The falling wing missed Mr Kirby by only 250 yards (228 metres).
 
The fire was all consuming and there was nothing Mr Kirby could do to help except call the fire brigade.
 
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Understandably, the Scientific Team was anxious to recover anything that might be left of their precious highly secret equipment. All they found were a few unrecognisable bits and a piece of the magnetron.
 
So horrendous was the crash that bits of the aircraft were spread over an acre (0.4 hectares) of land. The brave men who died are:
 
Pilots:
First Pilot: Pilot Officer D.J.D.Berrington (115095)
Second Pilot: Flying Officer A.M.Phillips (44185)
 
Crew:
Observer. Flight Sergeant G. Millar (751019)
Flight Engineer. Leading Aircraftman B.D.C.Dear (571852)
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. Aircraftman II, B.C.F. Bicknell (1271272)
 
Passengers:
Squadron Leader R.J.Sansom (33372) (Attached T.R.E.)
Pilot Officer C.E.Vincent (110285) (Attached T.R.E.)
Mr. G.S.Hensby, Civilian T.R.E.
Mr. A.D.Blumlein, Civilian E.M.I.
Mr. C.O.Browne, Civilian E.M.I.
Mr. F. Blythen, Civilian E.M.I.
 
This writer has sourced information from a book entitled 'The Inventor of Stereo: The Life and Works of Alan Dower Blumlein', by Robert Charles Alexander (1999)
 
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Description of the Window
The window has three Lights (panels) of stained glass, with a wooden framed dedicatory bronze plaque below:
 
Left Light:  Features the leek of Wales and the rose of England at the top; the crest of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental establishment (A&AEE) Martlesham Heath below it; and a Chain Home radar mast depicted at the bottom.
 
Centre Light:  Features the Royal Air Force crest at the top with a cross section diagram of a cavity magnetron below it; the Royal Radar Establishment's Coat of Arms in the upper centre; and the crest of the RAF Telecommunications Flying Unit 1941-1955, at the bottom.
 
Right Light: Features the thistle of Scotland and the clover of Ireland at the top of the window; the crest of the RAF Radar Research Flying Unit 1955-1976 in the middle; and at the bottom is an image of a Halifax bomber representing the Cemetric Airborne Radar.
 
Unveiling the Window
The memorial window was unveiled on 7 June 1992, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the crash.
 
The following is an extract from the Imperial War Museum’s archives:
 
“...The unveiling marks the anniversary of the worst tragedy when a Halifax aircraft carrying a prototype of the first ever ground mapping radar bombing aid crashed near Goodrich Castle, killing all eleven on board.
 
This navigational bombing aid made possible effective stategic air power, while its maritime derivative saved the British Isles from total isolation by submarines. Together both versions allowed the assembly of large military resources in Britain that enabled the Allies to liberate Europe in 1944-45.
 
"They applied the frontier of scientific knowledge to the salvation of their country"
© IWM (WMA-32833)
 
Seeing the Memorial Window
You will need to visit Goodrich Castle. It is an English Heritage property with an admission fee. The castle is well worth visiting in its own right. See article on this website for details of Opening Times, admission, etc.
 
Getting There
- By Car:
5 miles (8 km) South of Ross-on-Wye off A40.
 
Parking:
Visitors will find a large car park located close to the visitor centre (400 meters from the castle), which is accessed by some steps. To avoid slopes and steps, please park close to the refreshment area. The path to the castle can be muddy in places. A car parking charge of £1 applies.
 
- By Public Transport:
For information on closest bus route.  
 
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