Hatfield Park plane crash

Christopher R. Connell

Light aircraft crash in Hatfield Park

Around the mid 1950s, I visited a scout camp with my elder brother Pat, situated in a field adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Oak. While I was there, I along with all the scouts witnessed an aircraft, which I took to be a de Havilland Tiger Moth or similar, swoop low over our heads then climb and turn to the left away from us, clipping the top branches of an oak tree that stood on the boundary of an adjoining field, then still climbing as if to complete a circuit and return round above us again.

However, all of a sudden it spiralled into the ground and the fuel exploded. This happened 50 yards or so from an old bomb crater known locally as Pigeon Island. The scouts almost as one started grabbing the buckets of water that were stored at a fire point and began to climb the fence separating the two fields then running towards the crash site. It was of course a hopeless effort. The pilot must have died instantly, and there was too much heat to get anywhere near the stricken plane.

Despite all my efforts searching light aircraft crashes in England online, I can find no record of this incident. I wonder if anyone has any memory of this accident. After all these years I am beginning to wonder if I was dreaming.

Christopher R. Connell

This page was added on 01/11/2017.

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  • Hi John, it could possibly have been a marl pit, it was quite deep in my day but is now possibly much shallower and overgrown. I see you are on Hatfield of Yesteryear also.

    By Chris Connell (26/10/2023)
  • A very sad story, but l was interested to read Chris Connel’s reference to a bomb crater known as Pigeon Island.
    I knew there were many incendiary devices and bombs dropped on Hatfield, but unaware of any that landed in Hatfield Park.
    Could this crater have actually been a disused marl pit?

    By Jon Brindle (17/10/2023)
  • I’ve been investigating the Hatfield Park plane crash on behalf of my uncle, David Johnson, who witnessed the incident as a schoolboy. He made a contribution to this thread in 2018.

    As others have said, information about the crash is not easy to find. However, I located the Tiger Moth concerned in the De Havilland production inventory at http://www.airhistory.org.uk. Under construction number 85032, registration T6745 G-AHXC the plane is listed as “Crashed Hatfield Park 28/6/52”.

    A report in the Sunday Dispatch dated 29/6/52 named the pilot as Charles J. Woosnam of Manor Drive, Friern Barnet. The plane belonged to the London Flying Club. Charles’ death registration (Q3 1952, Hatfield vol 4b page 28) gives his birth year as about 1934. So, Charles was just 18 years old or so when he died. He was reported to have waved to three schoolboys shortly before crashing.

    Another report on page 5 of The People, also 29/6/52, reports how the scouts from a nearby camp formed a human water chain in an effort to put out the fire, but the flames were too fierce, and they were forced back.

    I assume there was an inquest following the crash but so far, I’ve been unable to find reference to it or any report of its findings.

    By Steven Jones (15/10/2023)
  • I can actually remember running across to the tiger moth
    It was on fire, nose down. I saw the the the poor pilot, still in the cockpit, with blood coming from his mouth. He was dead, and on fire.
    Very much on my mind, still unfortunately.

    By David Johnson (22/12/2018)
  • Do not know pilot’s name.
    I saw the pilot gaining height after a low pass.
    I think he stalled as he turned for another fly past. The result was a spiral down from no more than about 100 feet.

    By Roger Simms (18/01/2018)
  • Thank you Roger, do you happen to know who the pilot was & what the cause of the crash was, surely there must have been an inquiry.

    By Christopher R Connell (12/01/2018)
  • You were not dreaming. I was in the Ist Hatfield Viscount Cranborne’s Own Scout Group and we were camping in that same site. We watched the plane doing several turns back and forth and the pilot was waving to us and seemed to be smiling when the action you state happened. As you mentioned there was nothing we could do to help.

    By Roger Simms (11/01/2018)