At 10.02 am on 8th February 1943 Wellington Mk 1c HE103 (V) took off from RAF Dale on an anti submarine patrol. The patrol itself was uneventful but strong winds, heavy rain and low cloud took their toll on the fuel supply and the crew was forced to abandon the aircraft. They baled out and all were safe relatively speaking. The Airfield Controller had declined to divert them because the bad weather was not expected to last
The plane carried on and eventually crashed into high ground at Parc Llwydiarth in a remote area known as the Dyfnant Forest in near Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire (now Powys), Wales.
This is a small market town but boasted a Royal Observer Corps post and the headquarters of a Home Guard Company and was six miles from the crash site. The first indication of the crash was debris found by Private Watkin Jones of the local Home Guard platoon. There were also reports of German parachutists from various points, one of whom had landed near the Lake Vyrnwy Dam at Boncyn Celyn. It was the co-pilot, F/O Dobrowalski, and he had broken his leg and was in severe pain and was speaking in Polish.
Local Constables and Home Guard platoons picked up the rest of the crew in a line that stretched some eight miles eastwards. The pilot F/O J Wroblewski had injured his arm and the rear gunner, Sgt Stanislaw Malczyk's parachute had been caught up in a tree and he had hung there all night and had to be treated for shock and exposure. The rest of the crew (F/O Zbigniew Jaroszynski, Sgt Emil Walukiewicz and Sgt Konstanty Krajewski were uninjured.
The descending plane had sliced the tops off a swathe of trees and created a clearing sixty yards across when it hit the ground. The full load of bombs and depth charges were placed on a lorry and driven away but had to be taken to a remote spot when it was realised that they had not been made safe at the time. They were blown up in a controlled detonation which still caused minor damage to local houses. The stained glass leaded windows of the local church were bowed but not broken in the blast.
There was a fanciful story that a lot of Norwegian Krone had been found in the clearing and this gave rise to a panic story about a German invasion from Norway. There is a very interesting and more expansive account of this incident in the book Wings Across The Border - A History of Aviation in North Wales and the Northern Marches Volume 3 by Derrick Pratt and Mike Grant (Bridge Books, 2005) and I am grateful to Jeff Spencer of Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust for bringing it to my attention.