Other people’s memories


The following page(s) contain the texts of emails sent to me by relatives and friends as a direct result of reading the blog.

1. Teri Aldous, my cousin.

The day of the accident the police came to our house – goodness only knows how they knew that mum was your dad’s older sister – to give us the awful news.  They told us that only your mum had survived. Mum rang Gladys as far as I know, and it was decided that she (Gladys) and Reg would travel out. As my father’s health was pretty poor then (he had suffered a stroke a few weeks previously) mum agreed to stay at home and handle things at that end.

After three or four days the police came back and wanted to know if you had any identifying marks like appendix scars as there was an unidentified young man in the hospital and there was Mrs Gatford insisting that she had pulled her son from the plane and that he was alive. Mum said that she didn’t think you had an appendix scar, as she believed, of the four of us, I was the one without an appendix. Eventually they came back and told us that you were alive.

The Daily Mirror were particularly persistent as I remember and used to sit in a car parked in our close and question us every time we left the house. We swore we’d never buy a copy of the Mirror again – and I have found that a very easy promise to keep!

Mum, Gladys and I were tasked with going to Wellcroft Road and removing clothes etc. belonging to the girls and your Dad before you and your mum came home. This she’d asked us to do. I found this particularly difficult and even now it is very upsetting to remember and write about. I have a letter Janette wrote to me from the Mother and Baby home, my one treasured thing that is still part of her. You are welcome to read it when you’re here some time.


Wellcroft Road was where we lived before the accident. My mother and I only ever went back there once, with Uncle Reg, Aunty Gladys, Aunty Doris, Cousin Teri and some of my father’s work colleagues, to move our furniture and belongings to another council house in Welwyn Garden City. I sat with our next door neighbour, Mrs Roots, while they did this.

David Merriot, a school friend. >>

26 thoughts on “Other people’s memories

  1. My name is Linda Fowler. My best friend from college called Linda Martin was on the flight. She traveled with another girl who I think was called Sue. Sue survived in hospital for a few days then passed away. They were both just 19. I am convinced that I would have been on the flight had I not just become engaged to my future husband. Linda was a lovely girl. I saw her the Saturday before the flight and she had been to collect her currency. Linda was religious and attended Church every Sunday. Her ambition was to marry and have “6 children”. I stopped believing in a God The day she died.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Linda

      Many thanks for taking the time to make the post to my blog. One of the reasons for writing it – inspired by my meeting with the two doctors in Ljubljana last June – was to possibly contact others, like yourself, who were also affected by the disaster. I am so sorry for your loss of your friend. As I think I have stated somewhere in the blog, for many years I was so wound up by my own and my mother’s loss that I forgot that there were many others, not only amongst my own family, that suffered too. I have found your friend’s name – Linda Martin – in the list of casualties as reported in a newspaper cutting. Next to her name in the cutting there was S Worsdel, also from Bexleyheath, who I assume is the Sue you mentioned.

      One thing I found by accident a few years ago was the following:

      http://yorkdailypicture.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/four-graves-one-memorial.html

      This I found particularly poignant. However, despite being brought up in the faith of the Church of England, I was never really a church-goer and I, like yourself, found it impossible to believe in a god who would let something like this happen to innocent people.

      I assume that you are about the same age as me (I had my 19th birthday in hospital in Ljubljana). I may have left it a little late to start trying to make contacts but, as you have proved, there are still a few of us around.

      I have had one or two strange contacts in the past from people who claimed to have been affected by the accident but their interested turned out to be motivated by reasons other than grief. Thus I am a bit wary about making contacts such as this. When I have had a little more time I will approve your post to the blog so that it appears on-line.

      Once again, many, many thanks for responding.

      Michael Gatford

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      1. Dear Mike

        Thank you for a lovely message. Yes, we are about the same age. I was 70 in August last year.

        Thank you for confirming Sue’s surname. I believe her father and boyfriend visited her in hospital but she developed pneumonia and passed away. As I said previously, I met Linda at Edith Technical College and we became good friends. We were both taking a Secretarial course. It’s funny what you think at the time and one thought was that she had spent 2 years learning shorthand only to use it for about 18 months. I will never forget arriving home from work on the 2nd September and my mum meeting me at the door holding the evening newspaper. Her face was white. Linda’s name was on the front page of the paper. I think there was a photo of her in her Confirmation dress but I might be wrong about this. Her younger sister Janice was about 14 and was completely devastated. Linda was buried at the church she attended. Someone said they were not sure it was her body – obviously there was no DNA in those days. I have no idea if this was true. I married shortly after this, moved to Norfolk and lost contact with the family.

        Foreign holiday travel was in its infancy in 1966 and Yugoslavia was an unusual choice. I remember meeting her on the Saturday before she went and she showed me her currency intrigued by the amount of coins etc. She was beyond excited.

        Regards.

        Linda Fowler

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  2. Dear Mike. One think I have just remembered is that in about 1987 I worked with a girl whose cousin had been killed in the crash. He had got married on the Saturday and was on the plane with his wife. It was their honeymoon. I have no idea what his name was or where he came from but Wales rings a bell, but my colleague had been at the wedding. No doubt some ‘newspaper’ reported a honeymoon couple had been amongst the victims.

    Linda

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    1. Dear Linda,

      Could you tell me how you came across the blog? I know that Googling ‘Michael Gatford’ returns it at the top of the results list but I doubt that this is how you found it.

      A lot of both sides of the family come from Norfolk: Walpole St Andrew, Attleborough, Diss and Kings Lynn amongst other places. My sisters and I, together with my cousins Teri and Bill, spent many happy summers in Walpole St Andrew as children.

      Would you mind if I added some of your comments to the blog (under “Other people’s memories”?). I have not added much in recent months but need to add some things, particularly about another Uncle and Aunt of mine who were amazing immediately after the crash and in the years that followed. Your comments would fit in perfectly.

      Very kindest regards.

      Mike

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  3. Dear Mike. I came across your blog by googling the plane crash. I have no objection to you using any of my comments. Kind regards. Linda.

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  4. Dear Mike,

    I have just discovered your blog on the Ljubljana Plane crash and read it with great interest.
    Winifred Woolley was my aunt. She was my father’s youngest sister and as you have mentioned in your article, Win, together with her husband Fred and daughter Diana were all killed in the crash.
    I was around 17 years old at the time.
    I presume that your family and the Woolley’s were friends and were holidaying together?
    I know they were living in Hatfield at the time.
    It must have been a very moving experience for you to revisit the crash site and incredible for you to meet Doctors who were involved in your treatment.
    Kind regards

    Peter George

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Peter,

      I will need to respond more fully when I have had time to think. However, I wanted to reply to your comment as soon as I could as I was so happy to receive it. For many years I only thought about the effect of the crash on my mother and myself. To my shame I have only recently started talking about the loss of the lives of Fred, Winifred and Diana.

      Fred was, I believe, a colleague of my father’s at what was then Hawker Siddeley (previously The De Havilland Aircraft Company) situated on the A1 in Hatfield. Fred was also captain of the Hatfield Hyde Cricket Club Sunday 1st X1 for which I played. Thus he was also a friend and a mentor of mine. Winifred, and sometimes Diana, used to come along to watch games. All three were genuinely family friends and you are correct in presuming that we were holidaying together. I have some old photos taken at our house in Welwyn Garden City and at some cricket games. I will did these out and send them to you if you wish.

      Many, many thanks for responding to the blog.

      Very best wishes,

      Michael Gatford

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      1. Hi Mike,
        Thank you for responding so quickly. Yes I do recall now my aunt Vera, (Win’s sister) telling me that Fred worked at the De Havilland factory. I do have a photo of the family taken at Hatfield Cricket Ground, sitting together in front of what I think must be the pavilion, but I would very interested to see any other photos you have, that would be very kind.
        I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

        Best wishes

        Peter

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      2. Hello I am Ted Robinson from Harvington nr. Evesham in Worcs.. I met Fred and Win Wooley when on honeymoon with my late wife in Pineda de Mar in 1965. We had some lovely time together and I have some lovely photos if you would like to see them. Not sure if this will reach you as technology and me are not too compatible!! I am on 01386 872711. Kind regards.

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    2. My name is Ted Robinson. I met Fred and Win Wooley at Pineda de Mar on my honeymoon in 1965. Lovely couple we had some happy times. We almost agreed to meet up again in Yugoslavia in 1966 but as newlyweds pennies were tight so we declined.I have some lovely photos of Fred and Win and many happy memories also.

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    3. Hello, my name is Ted Robinson from Worcs.. I spent a lovely holiday with Fred and Win Woolley in Pineda de Mar in 1965 (on my honeymoon). We got on so well, they were a lovely couple. So tragic that their daughter was with them when it happened. I have some lovely photos of Fred and Win if you would like to have copies.
      Best wishes. 01386 872711.

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      1. Hello Ted,

        Lovely to hear from you. As you may have read in other comments Fred & Win were friends of my parents although Fred was also captain of the Hatfield Hyde 1st X1 cricket team that I played for. I have your email address so I will contact you again soon.
        Many, many thanks for taking the time to respond to the blog.

        Very best wishes

        Michael

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      2. Dear Michael,

        Hope you are well. Many thanks for copying me into this email. I will make contact with Ted shortly.

        Kind regards

        Peter

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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      3. Dear Ted,

        Many thanks for making contact with me regarding Fred and Win Woolley. I would be very interested to see some photos. My contact number is 07967 619037 and email is morse4584@gmail.com

        Best wishes

        Peter

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  5. Hello Michael just wanted to check that you received my post of my three relatives who died in the crash? (I also never gave their names. They were: Lesley Fletcher, Edward Fletcher and Sally Fletcher)

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  6. I had just got married and had moved to Wells in Somerset. The crash was reported on the front pages of most newspapers and it was a shock because five of the girls on the plane worked with me at Commercial Union Assurance Co. Ltd., Nottingham. My friend, Jill Abbot, died in hospital there after contracting pneumonia but the others survived. They smoked and they were at the back of the plane. It crashed and I believe it broke in half, killing everyone at the front and in the middle. Jill was 19 years old, the same age as me, and if it hadn’t have been that my husband was offered a job with a house we wouldn’t have married in June. I was considering going to Yugoslavia with them but fate intervened.

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    1. Dear Jennifer,

      Sorry for the delay in responding. Many thanks for posting your comment on the blog. I was lucky as, I seem to remember, that my sisters and friends were sitting in front of me and my mother and father behind me. My mother had just been to the loo before the crash and had swapped places with my father. Goodness knows how but my mother was virtually uninjured which, as I have written in the blog, was why I survived.

      I will reply to you more fully soon.

      Very best wishes,
      Michael

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    2. hello, im trying to find out more info on jill abbott as she was my mums cousin. would love to find any newspaper articles mensioning her name. not having much look but found a lovely picture of a written tribute in annesley church.

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      1. Dear Stephanie,
        I hope I can be of help. I can only find reference to a Miss R Abbott from Nottingham who was, initially listed as a survivor. I’ll do a bit more searching through some old newspaper clippings that I have and get back to you.
        Kind regards,
        Michael Gatford

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  7. Hello Michael,

    We hope this message finds you well.

    My brother and I often think of that fateful day. As it took the life of our cousin and her husband. Their names were Beryl and Richard Payne. They had been married for about 18 months and this was their honeymoon as such. As Richard had been busy putting a business together as a driving instructor. Beryl was in her early 20’s and Richard his early 30’s. They were taken to the airport by an aunt and uncle of ours. Short time after leaving them at the airport they had a call from Beryl and Richard saying that she had put her bag down and someone had stolen it. It contained their holiday money and a camera. Our uncle Bob had to go back up the airport with whatever cash they could put together and their camera for them to use. Does this mean anything to you? Can you remember hearing of a lady having her bag stolen?

    I often wonder if you had time to realise what was happening to you all when the plane went down? We heard that Richard was thrown from the plane but went back inside to try and we assume save Beryl? But never came out again. I see from this page this was a similar thing to what your mum did for you.

    We have searched but been unable to find a passenger list. I know our mum did have a copy but sadly we lost her 6 years ago and have been unable to find it ourselves. Although I was only 8 years of age at the time I can clearly remember the pictures on the news and my mum crying hysterically not knowing wether Beryl and Richard had survived.

    I do have a picture of them taken about a year before the accident that I can send over to you via email.

    Would love to hear from you and if any of what I have said makes any sense to you? I appreciate it is a long time ago now. However, we would be thankful to hear your recollection.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    Lorraine aged 60 and David aged 68

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    1. Dear Lorraine and David,

      Thank you so much for sending your comments to the blog. I have had several comments from people who were severely affected by the accident: I only wish I had been able to write this many years before. As you will realise from reading the blog, I was prompted to write it by the discoveries I made in late 2016 and early 2017, although it was just a few years before that, in 2009-2011 that I started having, for the first time ever, nightmares about the crash and sought the help of a counsellor. I used to think it was all about me and my mother and other survivors. However, I have realised that many others – relatives and friends – were severely affected too.

      I do have some copies of lists taken from newspapers of the time of those who died and those who survived. I have found one where there are two people listed: Mr R Payne and Mrs V Payne of Harlow Essex. Are they your cousin and her husband?

      I think your email address is lorraineclark1958@hotmail.com. I will send the scanned clips to that address.

      I will reply more fully soon but I am so grateful for your response that I wanted to reply as soon as possible.

      Very best wishes,

      Michael Gatford aged 70

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      1. Hi Michael ,thank you for your response .

        Beryl and Richard did live in Harlow Essex and they surname was Payne but I dont know why Beryl would have been listed as V.maybe it was simply a mix up with V and B sounding similar as I don’t recall her having any other name.Will look forward to seeing the cutting and hearing from you again

        Very best wishes

        Lorraine Clark and David Hall

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  8. Hi Michael thank you so much for your prompt response. I can confirm that is my correct email address. Yes Mr R Payne and Mrs V Payne (I can only assume this has been a typing error by them or miss hearing as it should have shown B rather than V). They most certainly did live in Harlow Essex. It’s a small world as Beryl was in fact born in WGC as my aunt was evacuated there as they were living in London. In 1980 my husband and I moved to WGC for a short time also. I look forward to seeing the cuttings and hearing from again.

    Best wishes,

    Lorraine

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  9. Sorry about the double response. I could see my previous comment so worried I hadn’t responded to you correctly haha

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