A propeller from a wartime bomber which crashed 72 years ago is to go on display at Dale – thanks to the Coastlands Local History Group and Valero Pembroke Refinery.
Currently being refurbished at Valero, it will be a poignant memorial to the Polish crew of Wellington HX384 who were killed in August 1942 when the aircraft crashed into the sea on take-off from Dale Airfield.
Two propellers were recovered by Llantrisant Diving Club in 1991. One was later transported to Poland and is prominently displayed at the War Museum in Warsaw. The other was for several years part of a small museum at Abergavenny.
The tragic story behind Wellington HX384 has been researched by aviation historian Malcolm Cullen, of Marloes.
“It belonged to No 304 Squadron, a Polish-manned unit in the Royal Air Force’s Coastal Command, and was the first of several aircraft tasked with a night operation,” said Malcolm. “The aircraft plunged into the sea and all six crew lost their lives. They are buried at Newark, Nottingham.
“Our propeller ended up in a garden before being rescued by Steve Jones of Port Talbot who returned it to Pembrokeshire. It has been gifted to the Coastlands Local History Group and will in time be displayed at Dale.”
After being stored by the Sunderland Trust’s Workshop in Pembroke Dock the propeller is now with Valero. Its transportation to the refinery was made possible thanks to the support of refinery contractors Austwel.
Valero Public Affairs Assistant William James added: “The HX384 propeller, and its incredible story, is a reminder of the sacrifices made by allied airmen during the Second World War, and the special role played by Polish RAF crews in Pembrokeshire at the time. Valero is proud to be able to assist in helping restore this significant piece of Pembrokeshire’s military heritage back to where it belongs in Dale.”