THE Torfaen community gathered on Thursday to remember the 13 men from the area who died in the Llandow air disaster, 70 years ago.

They were among 80 people who lost their lives on March 12, 1950, when a plane carrying Welsh rugby supporters home from a Five Nations game in Ireland crashed as it was trying to land.

At the time, it was the world's worst air disaster, and prompted a wave of collective mourning throughout the eastern valleys.

South Wales Argus:

An Argus picture of the remains of the Avro Tudor at Llandow

Outside Cwmbran Community Council's offices on Thursday, Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds and Cwmbran mayor Anthony Bird led tributes to those who died. Also in attendance were relatives and friends of some of the victims.

Rachel Bide, whose father Arthur Harry Crawshay-Williams died in the crash, said the 70th anniversary service had "evoked many memories".


"Life for us carried on, thanks to strong women and a strong and supportive community," she said, in a message on behalf of the victims' children. "But our fathers were never forgotten... We felt their presence, in life, as they walked alongside us."

Stuart Cameron, who organised the memorial service, was an infant in 1950, but "grew up with the names of the victims".

"I thought it would be a good thing for the people of Cwmbran to remember them," he said.

Mr Thomas-Symonds read the names of the 13 Torfaen victims, and recounted details of their trip to Dublin and Belfast, where they saw Wales seal the Triple Crown with a last-gasp victory over the Irish.

But on their return to Wales, their plane stalled and crashed just before landing at Llandow – killing all but three people on board.

The road from Llantarnam to Cwmbran was described as "an avenue of sorrow" in the wake of the disaster. Enormous crowds paid their respects at each of the funerals of the 13 Torfaen men, who were from Cwmbran, Blaenavon, Varteg, Garndiffaith, and Abersychan.

Warwick Sutton, 92, said he could remember the aftermath of the disaster "like it was yesterday".

"It was awful, all of Cwmbran was in mourning," he said.

"The community came together to support the families and friends of those who had been lost," Mr Thomas-Symonds said. "Life would never be quite the same for those whose loved ones had gone."

The Torfaen men who died in the Llandow air disaster were:

  • Bert Butcher, 61, licensee of The Greenhouse pub, Cwmbran.
  • William Herbert Irving, 32, an RAF squadron leader.
  • David Derfel Jones, 45, a farmer.
  • William Joseph Nicholas, 41, a farmer.
  • William Joseph Stevens, 25, a steelworker.
  • Arthur Harry Crawshay-Williams, 32, accountant and army captain.
  • John Thomas Emlyn Williams, 34, a farm manager.
  • Colin Jenkins, 31, a miner.
  • Albert Smith, 37, licensee of The Lion Hotel, Blaenavon.
  • Edgar Watkins, 36, a council officer.
  • George Burnett, 25, a miner.
  • Ronald James Price, 25, a miner.
  • Charles Henry Turner, 26, a miner.