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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 19:03 GMT
Memorial services mark air crash
Wreckage of the plane on Winter Hill
Only seven of the 42 people on board the plane survived the crash
Hundreds of people have attended two memorial services to mark the 50th anniversary of an air crash which claimed the lives of 35 Manx residents.

A plane carrying car workers to Greater Manchester to visit a factory crashed into Winter Hill in Lancashire in fog.

Just seven people on board survived the accident on 27 February, 1958.

Horwich Holy Trinity Church, in Greater Manchester, held a service at 1100 GMT and another was staged at St John's Church, in Douglas, at 1230 GMT.

Wreaths were also laid on Winter Hill and a plaque unveiled at Cooil-y-Ree.

The tragedy came just three weeks after eight of Manchester United's Busby Babes had died in the Munich air disaster.

Fred Kennish, survivor of the Winter Hill air crash
The last thing I remember was puffing on a cigarette. Things just went blank... I did not even hear any noise
Fred Kennish
Winter Hill crash survivor

Car trade delegates were on a day trip to a new battery factory in Clifton, Salford, when the Bristol 170 Freighter they were travelling in hit bad weather over Blackpool.

In the first of a series of navigating errors, the plane's radio compasses were tuned to the wrong beacon and all ground contact was lost in thick fog and heavy snow.

Manchester air traffic controllers were radioed for help but instructions were given for the plane to climb and turn right, resulting in the aircraft smashing into Winter Hill, which was shrouded in thick fog.

Emergency crews dug through 6ft snow drifts to reach the injured.

Fred Kennish, a 35-year-old coachbuilder at the time, was one of the seven to escape the crash alive.

He spent four days unconscious in hospital with a serious head injury, two broken collar bones and a fractured spine and leg.

My daughter was only nine at the time. It has been a very long 50 years
Margaret Tonkin, widow of victim

Mr Kennish, a former mayor of Douglas who is now 85, said: "The last thing I remember was puffing on a cigarette. Things just went blank. I did not even hear any noise."

He was later told that he had been in a snow-filled ditch for six hours.

Mr Kennish, who has returned to Winter Hill over the years, said Douglas was left devastated by the crash.

He said: "It was a small community then. There were 35 good fellas who lost their lives that day - I worked with them every day and I still think of them a lot."

Margaret Tonkin was among those who visited Winter Hill for the wreath laying ceremony.

"My husband was killed and 34 of our friends," she said.

"My daughter was only nine at the time. It has been a very long 50 years."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Survivors remember the Winter Hill crash



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