Guarlford History Group

Guarlford Farm Worker's Gallant Act

Keith Chester has sent the Guarlford History Group a clipping from the Malvern Gazette, reporting the rescue of the pilot of the Beaufighter which crashed in Guarlford in April 1944. The report mentions that following the rescue by Charlie Williams, Christine Chester, Keith's sister, tended the injured airmen.

Here is a transcript of the report in the Malvern Gazette:-

SATURDAY, MAY 27, 1944


Guarlford Farm Worker's Gallant Act

When an aircraft crashed on April 22nd at Guarlford, Malvern, and burst into flames, a young farm worker, Charles Richard Williams, of Archer's Cottage, Sherrards Green, forced his way through the flames, pulled out the pilot, who was severely injured and unconscious, and carried him clear of the wreckage.

Williams, who is 20 years of age and stands over six feet in height, is employed by Mr Ronald H. Smith of Guarlford Court. He told a reporter:

'I was working in a rickyard when I saw the plane overhead, apparently in difficulties. I saw  it dive down and heard a crash and then saw a cloud of smoke. I raced as fast as I could across the fields for a quarter-of-a-mile  and saw a RAF sergeant, who had a broken collar bone, near the plane.

I asked if there was anybody in the plane and he said, 'Yes the pilot.' I ran to the burning wreckage, crawled underneath, and dragged out the pilot, still attached to the seat.

It was very hot as the whole of the machine was on fire and as I left the plane ammunition began to explode. The pilot's face was covered in blood, and I could see he was badly injured. I dragged him clear of the wreckage and then while I went for the ambulance my father Mr T Williams and  Mr G H Wall, of Grove House Farm, carried him to a ditch.'

Except for a few cuts and bruises Williams was uninjured.

Bullets Whizzing Overhead

Mr Williams Sen. said as they lay in the ditch with the pilot, bullets from the blazing plane were whizzing overhead.  'The plane looked like a red hot furnace,' said Mr Williams.

Mr G H Wall said he was working in a field near Garter Wood when the plane crashed.

'I dived through  a hedge and saw that young Williams had just pulled out the pilot.' He continued 'the petrol tank was blazing away. I pulled off the pilot's parachute and took off his collar and tie and with the assistance of Mr Williams Sen. dragged him into a ditch. Bullets were 'pinging' away all around us, and we all kept under cover.

'Young Williams undoubtedly saved the pilot's life," said Mr Wall. 'Three minutes later and he would have been burned to death.'

Mr Wall added that Miss Christine M Chester, daughter of Captain and Mrs R F Chester, of Guarlford, was in the ditch with the injured pilot, and she was "exceptionally cool and calm."

Air Commodore Tributes

Mr C R Williams has received the following letter from an Air Commodore:

'It has been brought to my notice that at considerable personal risk you crawled through the wreckage of a burning aircraft and pulled out the pilot. Although still in hospital I am informed that this officer is making good progress. But for your brave and prompt action the consequences would have been far more serious. I wish to express to you my sincere thanks and to say how much I appreciate your gallant conduct.'

From the same source Miss Chester  who is 18 years of age  and was educated at the Alice Ottley School, Worcester, has received the following letter:

'I have been informed that shortly after an aircraft crashed you arrived at the scene of the accident and tended the injured crew until transport arrived to take them to hospital. During this time ammunition was exploding in the burning wreckage and your disregard for your own personal safety merits high praise. You will no doubt be pleased to know that although the pilot is still in hospital but for the prompt action and assistance of Mr Williams and yourself the consequences would undoubtedly have been far more serious. I wish to express to you my sincere thanks and appreciation of your brave conduct.'

Newspaper notices

On a lighter note, a notice on the back of the press cutting advertises for an Assistant for the Malvern Public Library.

Age 14 - 18 or over 41.

Salary 45 - 135 per annum, according to age, plus War Bonus.

Other notices announced Whit Sunday church services on  Sunday May 28th 1944.

(We could not have invented the names of the clergy!)

Holy Trinity Parish Church, North Malvern

Preacher Rev R D Daunton-Fear

Private Communion at any time by request

Methodist Church, Lansdowne Crescent

Services at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm

Methodist Church, Malvern Link

Somers Park Avenue

Visitors Heartily Welcomed!

Malvern Link Free Church

Church Anniversary

also on June 1st Summer Rally; supper will follow

Holly Mount, Congregational Church Malvern

11:00 am Rev EJ Hawkins - 'The fellowship of the spirit'

6:30 pm Rev Angus T Jones - 'The energy we forget'

Malvern Baptist Church

(opposite County Hotel)

Services conducted by Rev FJ Coward