They’re all set for a very special “wing walk.”
Friends Karen Todd and Sharon Pearson are in training for a five-day sponsored walk in memory of the six-man crew of a Wellington bomber who lost their lives when it crashed near Farnley Tyas during World War Two.
As well as paying tribute to the lost crew of Flight Z1327 they will also be marking the 70th anniversary of the Huddersfield branch of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).
Branch members were responsible in 2015 for the creation of a memorial to the crew of the Vickers Wellington which crashed on a training flight in 1942.
Karen and Sharon are training hard for the event which gets under way next Wednesday (August 24) and will involve them walking 72 miles over five days from Holme on Spalding Moor – where the crew were buried – to St George’s Square in Huddersfield.
The fundraisers, accompanied by mascot teddy bear Wellington, will lay flowers on the graves before setting off on the first day to walk to RAF Breighton near Selby where the bomber was based.
Day two will see them walk to Pontefract where they will lay a wreath on the town’s war memorial before arriving in Castleford. Day three takes them to Leeds and day four ends at Wakefield before the final leg to Huddersfield on day five when they expect to be joined on the walk by Colne Valley Conservative MP and Huddersfield RAFA branch president Jason McCartney. They will then take a mini bus to the memorial at Farnley Tyas for a short service.
The intrepid walkers are well on their way to raising their target figure of £1,000 for the branch. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/karen-Todd1
Karen, 52, of Hinchliffe Mill, and Sharon, 55, who lives at Honley, are both married to ex-RAF personnel. Karen’s husband Mike was a radio technician while Sharon’s husband Robert was a chef.
The Vickers Wellington Mark IV bomber was first delivered to 460 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, based at RAF Breighton near Selby, in late December 1941. It was allocated a six-man crew, led by volunteer RAAF pilots, which immediately embarked on familiarisation and training exercises.
On the evening of February 17, 1942, the crew undertook a night cross-country training exercise and left Breighton at 7.20pm. They first headed south, using Peterborough, Harwell, Pershore and Sywell as turning points.
As they were making for home they flew off track and the aircraft descending into rising ground near Farnley Tyas. At 10.20pm the aircraft struck a cottage and crashed into a wooded area nearby. All six airmen on board were killed in the accident.
Frank Smith, life vice-president of the Huddersfield branch of the RAF Association and a World War Two veteran, campaigned to have a memorial to the Wellington Z1327 erected at the aircraft’s crash site. In April last year his efforts were rewarded when branch members gathered to unveil a memorial plaque at Farnley Tyas.