New light on the Southwick nuclear bomber disaster of 1956 Brighton News

NEW book sheds light on nuclear bomber crash in Southwick at the height of the Cold War.

The RAF Valiant bomber crashed into a railroad track south of Croft Avenue, narrowly avoiding the destruction of Manor Hall Road Junior Boys School and adjacent houses, or crashing into the busy harbor.

Three crew members were killed in the accident of May 11, 1956, only the co-pilot was able to eject.

The Argus: Wreckage was seen smoldering on Croft Avenue after the 1956 Valiant Bomber crash - credit: Peter Sayer The wreckage was seen smoldering on Croft Avenue after the 1956 Valiant bomber crash – credit: Peter Sayer

The event had been shrouded in mystery, as the Valiant was a new top secret bomber at the time, designed to fly high and fast over the Soviet Union to drop atomic weapons in the event of nuclear war.

Now, some 65 years later, Southwick Society President Mary Candy has reconstructed the events of that fateful day and its effects on the local community through once top secret documents, newspaper articles and memorabilia. from locals in a new book – Southwick’s Miraculous Escape. .

She discovered that the plane was on an experimental flight from Farnborough, when the on-board test equipment began to fail.

As he burned fuel around Brighton to return to base, an electrical failure caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.

The Argus: Houses on Croft Avenue were also damaged by the crash, which killed three bomber crew membersHomes on Croft Avenue were also damaged in the crash, which killed three bomber crew members

The bomber crashed just east of a train station, sending a burning wreckage nearly half a mile from the crash site, causing extensive damage to homes on Croft Avenue and Whiterock Place .

Southwick Society Secretary Nigel Divers said: ‘When I first went to Manor Hall Road School shortly after the event, stories of the crash still abounded, many of them frightening and, in hindsight, fanciful.

“It’s no surprise that among the little boys there was a lot of talk of spies and sabotage and many were convinced he was carrying a bomb, conspiracy theories are nothing new.”

“Now we know what really happened. Illustrations and maps superbly show the effects on Southwick and the damage to local homes, Southwick has truly had a miraculous escape.

“Marie is to be commended for her superb research and for producing an excellent book that answers all of our questions about this tragic event. ”

The Valiant bomber made its first flight in 1951 and entered service in 1955.

Although the aircraft was at the forefront of the times, it was not without its problems.

There were crashes in 1952 and 1955, as well as eight more crashes after Southwick.

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This notice was published: 2021-08-30 04:00:00

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