MOORDOWN residents gathered to pay their respects to nine people who died when an RAF Halifax bomber crashed in Bournemouth 70 years ago.

Last Friday was the anniversary of the crash, in which bomber JP137 plummeted to the ground in Wimborne Road having suffered an engine failure shortly after departing RAF Hurn.

All seven of the crew died, along with two residents who were in their homes at the time.

The group, including Susan Chislett – whose great-uncle was one of those killed – laid a wreath at the memorial for the wartime tragedy in Meadow Court Close.

Percy Chislett, a painter and decorator who served in the First World War, was asleep when the plane hit the corner of his house – 1027 Wimborne Road – causing him fatal injuries.

His great-niece, who travelled to Bournemouth from her home in Kent for the commemoration, said: “I am very touched that people are here to mark this event.

“It is part of the heritage of Bournemouth and isn’t so well known as the Metropole Hotel bombing, so it is great that this memorial was made.

“What makes this tragedy particularly sad is that it was an accident rather than a deliberate attack.

“It is right that people still commemorate it 70 years on.

“Percy’s grave was reclaimed in 1983, so I very much appreciate this memorial.”

The plane took off from Hurn just after midnight on March 21, 1944, bound for the Mediterranean Allied Air Force base in Morocco.\ It is thought it may have been on a mission for the Special Operations Executive.

However its engine failed almost immediately and it plunged to the ground in Moordown.

At the time the pilot, Flight Sergeant Dennis Evans, was blamed for the tragedy, but research since by the Moordown 2010 committee – which set up the memorial – suggests that design flaws in the aircraft were the cause.

Who died in tragedy

Civilians: Dorothea Bennett of Flat 9 Meadow Court Percy Chislett of 1027 Wimborne Road
RAF Volunteer Reserve: Sgt Denis Evans – Pilot
Sgt Henry Roberts – Nav
F/O Stanley Appleton – B/A
Sgt George Alexander – W/Op
Sgt Stanley Gent – F/E
Sgt Kenneth Green – A/G
RCAF: Sgt Reginald McGregor – A/G