A POIGNANT tribute was paid last weekend in memory of ten people who all lost their lives in a wartime plane crash 70 years ago.
As the rain poured down, villagers from Great Ouseburn gathered in sombre silence for a short service and ceremony on Sunday afternoon to remember those who lost their lives in 1942 during World War Two when a Flamingo plane crashed to the ground in a nearby field killing instantly all those on board.
To mark the 70th anniversary, a permanent memorial in the form of two plaques were installed in the village with representatives from the families of those killed, members of the Royal Air Force, representatives of the Russian Embassy, the Mayor of Harrogate and villagers all coming together to remember and honour the lost men.
The tragic disaster occurred when a secret wartime flight carrying Russian military officials plummeted to the ground killing all ten people on board.
The disaster attracted international interest, with fears that the engine fire which caused the crash was the result of a Nazi plot. However, no evidence of satobage was ever found.
The four Russians were on a reconnaissance trip to Britain in advance of a secret visit by the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.
They were accompanied by six members of the RAF and were travelling in the same Flamingo plane which had carried Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle two years before.
Coun Keith Scott, chairman of Ouseburn Parish Council, said: “The Great Ouseburn plane crash caused an international scandal at the time and 70 years later, it is attracting renewed interest.
“We thought it was time that there was a permanent memorial to mark the site. The plaques are inscribed in both English and Russian as a tribute to the victims of both nationalities.”
There are still a number of eyewitnesses who still remember the crash including Margaret Stead, 84, who now lives in Moortown, Leeds.
On Sunday, local historian Kevin Cale, who has carried out research into the last hours of the flight, also gave a short presentation and showed artefacts he had recently unearthed with fellow historians at the crash site.