Dartmoor Air Crashes
Author – Robert Jones
Publisher – The Dartmoor Company
ISBN-10 – 0955515092
ISBN-13 – 978-0955515095
Format – 62 page paperback
Price – £9.99p
Dartmoor – the ‘Wildest Land‘, the ‘Last Wilderness‘ and for some the ‘Last Resting Place‘. Anybody who has been walking amongst the remote high moors with their stark granite tors and quaking peat bogs will know how terrifying this landscape can become when shrouded in thick mist, rain or snow. Visibility is at a premium and so imagine being in a World War Two aircraft, in the dark and suddenly encountering such daunting conditions. During the period from 1939 to 1945 over forty aircraft came to tragic ends which led to the loss of life for at least 100 brave airmen. Amongst the many casualties there was a diverse mixture of nationalities; British, American, New Zealanders, Australians, Germans and the oldest of all these men was a mere 27 years of age.
The author; Robert Jones is a local man and himself flew Tiger Moths from Roborough, he later became secretary of the Dartmoor Gliding Society and has spent many hours flying over the moor. He is also a keen walker as is evident from his photographs of the various remote crash sites. Having spent time in the air over Dartmoor he has for himself experienced the numerous difficulties that the rugged landscape can offer.
Dartmoor Air Crashes is a well researched book drawing on information sourced from numerous archives such as; the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Kracker Luftwaffe Archive, RAF Hendon, and the National Archive at Kew to name but a few. Each of the sixteen chapters vividly recounts the missions and the fateful ends of various aircraft and their crew on and around Dartmoor. Many of the pages contain photographs of the aircraft that crashed, in some cases old images of the crew along with the various memorials that mark the crash sites. Within the pages there are accounts of the local people who ventured out onto the moor in atrocious weather conditions on heroic rescue attempts. From Steeperton Tor on north Dartmoor to South Brent in the south, from Tavistock in the west over to Bovey Tracey in the east the whole area is peppered with crash sites and over two dozen are recounted in the book. The pages are well indexed along with a glossary of terms, two appendices; one listing the actual accidents and the other the casualties involved. Although the precise crash locations are not given for obvious reasons the general area of each incident is listed.
Over the years several attempts have been made to document the various air crashes which occurred on Dartmoor but none have ever rivalled this book. For anybody that is interested in World War Two aviation history, Dartmoor history of the time or even just a fascinating read then this publication is a must for the bookshelf. Probably the most poignant way to end this review comes from Robert Jones himself when he writes; “These accounts are not about the glory of war, nor are they about the folly of war. They are, quite simply, about the consequences of war.”
Dartmoor Air Crashes can be obtained online – HERE
Or from most local Dartmoor bookshops