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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Air crash relatives want memorial
Alice Cox
Alice Cox died at the age of 33 after a plane crashed into her home
The descendants of a mother and two children, killed when a Spitfire crashed into their south Wales home during World War II, are looking for a permanent memorial.

Alice Cox and her daughters Phyllis and Doreen died in 1941 when the Canadian Air Force plane crashed in Mount Pleasant near Merthyr Tydfil.

They were buried in an unmarked grave but relatives want a proper headstone.

Alice's grandson has appealed for help from the Canadian Forces.

James Cox said relatives had recently learnt more about the crash and the effect it had on those family members left behind.

Alice's husband James and their three sons survived the crash on 7 July 1941.

South View, Merthyr Vale - the house would have been where the white van is parked
The house stood on the site of this parking area

Two Royal Canadian Air Force pilots were flying over Mount Pleasant, when their Spitfires collided, according to records.

One of the fighter aircraft crashed into the house at the end of South View in the village, killing 33-year-old Alice and her daughters Phyllis, 14 and three-year-old Doreen.

Alice's husband James, who had been on a shift at a munitions factory, was asleep at the time of the crash but was thrown to safety.

Neighbours tried to rescue the family - who had just returned from a shopping trip - but the heat from the fire was too intense.

Three sons, Donald, Thomas and Len, survived because they were out playing at the time of the crash.

James Cox and his surviving children (L-R: James Leonard "Len", James Llewellyn, Donald Malvern and Thomas Leslie Cox)
It must have been so awful for them - and we were never able to talk about it while they were alive
James Cox, grandson

The pilot who crashed into the house, Sgt Gerald Manuel, 25, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was also killed.

The other pilot Sgt Lois 'Curly' Goldberg, 27, was from Montreal, died when his Spitfire crashed into a field.

They were buried two days later in cemeteries in nearby Cefn Coed.

After the deaths of Alice's sons, the family started compiling a family tree and were able to learn more about the crash.

He said that the death had had a profound effect on his grandfather, father and two uncles.

"Their deaths were never discussed," he said.

"It was just too painful for them to talk about. It must have been so awful for them. And we were never able to talk about it while they were alive."

Mr Cox said the family were upset to discover that their relatives had been buried in an unmarked grave.

"They are effectively in a pauper's grave," he said.

Mr Cox said he had considered putting a memorial there himself but would like the Canadian Forces to recognise the tragedy and mark the grave "with a fitting headstone".

Although the three family members are remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, a spokeswoman said that in order to qualify for a headstone of memorial, the person had to have served for the Commonwealth forces.

The Royal Canadian Air Force disbanded in 1968 with its function being taken over by the Air Force Element of the Canadian Forces.

BBC Wales news website is awaiting a response from the Canadian Forces about the family's request.




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