Bristol Blenheims from RAF Aldergrove, May 1941. (IWM photo)
A memorial to six female civilians killed at RAF Aldergrove during World War II has been approved by Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors.
The proposal was given the go-ahead at a meeting of the borough council’s Community Planning Committee last week.
The committee was told of a fatal crash at RAF Aldergrove on 19 July 1941 when a Bristol Blenheim aircraft from 254 Squadron struck a wireless mast during a low level flight and crashed into the roof of the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) building before bursting into flames.
Six civilians who had been working in the building, three airmen on board and an airman who was walking nearby were killed. The report indicated although memorials have been erected to the military casualties, to date, there has been no memorial to the civilian casualties locally.
Pilot of tragic Bristol Blenheim, Flying Officer Walter Hargreaves King
Notices of the women's deaths printed in local newspapers at the time
It has been proposed to erect a memorial plaque close to the crash site in Killead to commemorate the civilians. They were: Margaret Castles, Lisburn; Elizabeth Osborne, Ballymacateer, Lurgan; Brigid McGarry, The Largy, Crumlin; Mary Mulholland, Aldergrove; Annie Watson, Belfast and Annie Crozier, Belfast.
The plaque is expected to cost approximately £1,000.
Antrim DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop BEM said:
“It is unfortunate that it has taken so long for a memorial to the women who gave up their time as volunteers. It is a small token of this council to recognise that. I am more than happy to support it.”
The proposal was seconded by Antrim Alliance Cllr Neil Kelly.
Threemilewater DUP councillor Alderman Stephen Ross asked for members to be shown drawings of the proposed memorial “before it goes on a wall”.
“I think it should be something we are proud of not just a black plaque with six names on it and a bit of writing.”
Newspaper report after the tragedy happened at Aldergrove