Harpenden Air Crash

Loss of an RAF pilot, 1953

On September 3rd, 1953, my girlfriend, (later my wife)and I were cycling past Aldwickbury Farm towards Wheathampstead when we heard the scream of a high speed jet aircraft.  As we looked up an RAF jet came out of the light cloud in a vertical dive.  Seconds later we were blown off our bicycles as it nosedived into the ground just behind some trees to our left.

A Huge Crater

When we picked ourselves up we rushed into the grounds of the farm and were faced by a huge, smoking crater.  The Herts Advertiser later reported that the crater was twenty feet across and twelve feet deep.  There were pieces of wreckage strewn all round.  Mr C.Hett of Aldwickbury Farm had also come rushing out and, on seeing the crater, went in to telephone the police.

No Trace of The Pilot

There were pieces of wreckage hanging in nearby trees and scattered over a wide area but we found no trace of the pilot and had not seen any sign of a parachute.  The police, fire brigade and two ambulances were soon on the scene and we were moved away by the police to allow the fire and ambulance service to do their job.  The ambulances soon left and we later heard that only a few pieces of human flesh were found.

Pigs Near Miss

On the edge of the crater two wooden pig huts had been almost demolished.  We heard later that no pigs were inside.  An RAF working party soon arrived on the scene to start the recovery of the wreckage.  They stayed for some time until all the remaining wreckage had been recovered.  The aircraft was later identified as a Meteor Mark VII from Oakington, Cambridgeshire.

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