A Royal Tragedy Remembered

26 May

A Pembrokeshire airman’s part in a royal tragedy is told in a new display at Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre.

Charles Lewis, the Letterston airman, in a still from the film ‘Coastal Command’. PICTURE: Sunderland Trust Archive.

Charles Lewis, the Letterston airman, in a still from the film ‘Coastal Command’.
PICTURE: Sunderland Trust Archive.

Charles Lewis, of Letterston, was among the crew of a Sunderland flying boat which in August 1942 took off from a Scottish base, destination Iceland. On board was the King’s brother, the Duke of Kent, and his entourage. The flight ended in disaster, the aircraft crashing into a hillside and the Duke and all but one on board were killed.

In previous months Charles Lewis had featured in a film made by the Crown Film Unit which followed the fortunes of a Sunderland crew. The film – entitled ‘Coastal Command’ – was premiered in London in October 1942, just weeks after the tragedy. Relatives of the crew were honoured guests at the premiere.

Today this evocative wartime film can be watched at the Heritage Centre in Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard Chapel. And the story behind the ‘Coastal Command’ film is told in newly created interpretation. The Centre’s Archive also has several artefacts and photographs relating to Charles Lewis and other members of the crew.

Charles Lewis’ white war grave headstone can be seen at St Giles’ Church, Letterston. Another Welshman in the crew was Royston Jones, of Port Talbot.

The Heritage Centre is open all week, 10 am to 4 pm.