This grave at Scottow Cemetery commemorates the life of Flying Officer Alan Towle. His address is listed as St. George’s Avenue in Bridlington, but he was married to Barbara Towle, who lived at Fern Cottage, Lower Street in Horning.
Towle died at the age of 24 on 29 December 1953, when his aircraft crashed at a location between Darlton and Tuxford in Nottinghamshire. He was flying in a De Havilland Venom Jet, a relatively new aircraft that was still being launched across the RAF, replacing the Vampire Jet.
The Yorkshire Post reported an eye-witness who said:
“I was half a mile away on the top of a hill when I saw the plane flying low. The pilot appeared to be trying to make a forced landing. The plane, however, suddenly lifted sharply and rocked, and having lost flying speed crashed and burst into flames”.
The newspaper added:
“Another eye-witness, Mr. H Murdock, a farmer, of Darlton, said ‘the pilot was thrown clear of the blazing portion of the plane, but still trapped in some wreckage. One of our men, Reg Turner, ran up and pulled the pilot clear, but he was already dead”.
The Aviation Safety web-site has more information on what went wrong on that night:
“DH.112 Venom NF.2 WL829 was first flown at De Havilland’s at Chester on 11/08/53. On 29/12/53 the aircraft had been collected from 48 MU at RAF Hawarden, Chester, for delivery to 23 Squadron at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk. While en route on the delivery flight, the pilot reported that he was experiencing difficulty with the engine and could not get more than 5,000 rpm from the engine, with consequent reduced power. The pilot therefore decided to divert to RAF Worksop in Nottinghamshire.
He then next reported that the engine problems were getting worse, and he would not be able to make RAF Worksop. He then decided to attempt a forced landing into a field 2.5 miles north-east of Tuxford, Nottinghamshire. On final approach, during this attempted emergency landing, the nose of the Venom lifted, the aircraft stalled and crashed, diving into the ground at a low altitude and killing the pilot.”