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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Air crash site stirs emotions
Todd Yates
Todd Yates' quest led him to mid Wales
A man has travelled thousands of miles to visit a remote site in mid Wales where his great uncle's RAF bomber crashed exactly 62 years ago.

Canadian Todd Yates, 34, has been researching the tragedy for a year since he made a pledge to his family to find out where and how 19-year-old pilot, Flight Sergeant Ralph William Morin, died.

His search led him to an area of peat bog near the Powys town of Llanidloes, called Waen Carno, where his relation's Armstrong Whitworth Whitely bomber came down on May 9, 1942.

The location is so isolated that Mr Yates required a detailed Ordinance Survey map and a local guide to find it.

It was strange, but I actually felt something when I was there...it was some sort of connection with the past
Todd Yates

Searching the internet at first for information last year, Mr Yates then turned to the Canadian government for help and it provided the father-of-one, from Vancouver, with his great uncle's service record.

Mr Yates, who will visit the public records' office in London on Thursday in the next stage of his quest, said: "My great uncle Ralph was on a training flight from Abingdon, in Oxfordshire, over Wales when the accident happened.

"It's unclear how or why the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber crashed. I'm not sure if it was due to pilot error, bad weather or down to mechanical problems.

"I was so determined to see the site, although the only way to get there was by foot. It was strange, but after searching for information for so long it was so nice to finally find the crash site.

"It was strange, but I actually felt something when I was there. I can't describe what it was, and I'm not an emotional person, but it was some sort of connection with the past - I can't really describe it."

Mr Yates told how he had left his wife and son in Vancouver to pursue his dream of finding the crash site.

Ralph Morin
Ralph Morin was aged just 19 when he was killed

The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, serial number P5057, and flown by Flight Sgt Morin, was part of 10 Operational Training Unit. It crashed in the early hours of 9 May 1942 - all five crew were killed.

Aviation artist and aircraft historian Rob Evans, from Oswestry, Shropshire, said: "According to the book RAF Bomber Command, by W.R. Chorley, the Armstrong Whitley flown by Sgt Morin took off from Abingdon at 11.55pm on 8 May, 1942, on a night navigation exercise and flew into high ground at 4.15am.

"Sgt Morin is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey, along with a Sgt D.N. Sellers who was on the same flight."

Mike Hatch, researcher for the RAF's air historical branch, said the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley were twin-engine bombers.

He added: "By 1942-43 they were being used for training, maritime patrols, parachute training and flying Special Operations' Executive agents into France.

"None of the planes survived the war."


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