the civilians


In addition to the 7 aircrew who lost their lives in the crash of JP137, 2 civilians were also tragically killed, in the intense fire that followed the crash.

Dorothea Bennett, the 59 year old widow of pharmacist Oswald Bennett, occupied the flat at 9 Meadow Court. Her only daughter, Margaret, a young doctor with the Royal Army Medical Corps, was also resident there at that time.

Dorothea was preparing for bed in the back bedroom of the flat, when the aircraft crashed into the ground directly outside her room. She was unable to escape from the intense inferno that engulfed the whole area behind her flat, immediately after the crash, and her body was later discovered on the floor of her room.

Margaret was able to escape via the front of the flat, having been knocked temporarily unconscious by the force of the initial blast, as the aircraft's fuel tanks exploded.

Following some very expert genealogical research by my friend Maurice Sheppard, we were able to trace Dr. Bennett, who is still alive. Even though she is now 96, she is able to  vividly recall the events of that night, in some detail. 

We have Dorothea's Commonwealth War Graves Certificate, and Margaret was able to supply a photograph of Dorothea, and of herself.  
   Dr. Margaret Bennett in 1944
    Dr. Bennett in 2012

The second civilian victim to die that night was Percy Chislett.  Percy was a 49 year old painter and decorator, who was asleep in his bedroom at the back of his cottage at 1027 Wimborne Rd.

JP137 hit the ground initially behind the flats of Meadow Court, but had continued to slide northwards, until the main part of the wreckage came to rest, upside down, behind the 4 cottages at 1025, 1027, 1029 and 1031 Wimborne Rd.

Again, like Dorothea, Percy stood no chance once the aircraft exploded, and his burnt body was discovered later, still in his bedroom.  

Percy's wife, and son John, managed to escape from the upstairs window at the front of the cottage, but with their home destroyed by the fire, they were left with just the nightclothes they stood in.

We do not (yet!) have a photograph of Percy, but we do have his Commonwealth War Graves Certificate, which is shown below.

Percy's great-niece, Susan Chislett, has been researching family sources, and remains hopeful that we shall yet find a photo of Percy.