Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Causeway Bomber Story Broadcast

The Bob Huggins interview with Jill Moss is to be broadcast on Down Radio today about 12:30pm. Jill is the niece of Wilson Twentyman, NZAF, who perished in the crash at the Giant's Causeway in July 1942.

Sorry about the very short notice!!


Barbara Woodhouse, niece of the other crash victim, Sgt Vernon Pither RAAF, was only four years old when her uncle died. Like Jill Moss from NZ, she remembers well his photograph in her grandparent's home. They talked a lot about Vernon and were relieved that he was buried on 'home' ground.

Vernon had three brothers. They were all born on the family farm and Barbara's father stayed at home to run it; he was in the Home Guard. Another brother became a Methodist minister. The third brother became an Air Commodore, specialising in radar development.

Vernon was a practising Christian and had thought of becoming a minister himself. He met the Acheson family when he was stationed at Limavady; they lived in the Methodist manse. They laid on tea for the airmen every Sunday; Vernon always turned up and Lorna Acheson still remembers how special his voice was as he sang familiar hymns.

Lorna, now in her eighties, has very fond memories of Vernon; she and her family were devastated when they heard that he had been killed. They went to his funeral service in Christchurch Parish Church and Lorna's future husband, an RAF officer, was one of the pall bearers.

An avenue of eucalyptus trees was planted in Shepparton, Australia, in memory of the young men who had died overseas; there's a plaque at the bottom for each one. Vernon's tree has matured and Barbara and her family often walk along this memorial avenue.

During her visit to Northern Ireland, Barbara and her granddaughter, Alice, visited Aghanloo airfield, Drenagh House, the old billets along the Murderhole Road that Vernon possibly lived in, his grave at Christchurch where she placed a poppy cross and then on to the crash site at the Giant's Causeway. She found the experience very moving and was impressed by the care and attention devoted to the maintenance of her uncle's grave.

She echoed Jill's words in saying that if Vernon had to die on active service then at least his last view on this earth was the Giant's Causeway, not a bombed German city.

Glenda Rodgers