There are events in ones life that will and do stay forever.
The two day visit to Stavanger in Norway was one such event.
The purpose for the visit was to remember the victims of the air crash of one of our aircraft, the Vickers Viking G-AHPM fifty years ago. The aircraft was carrying
thirty-four young schoolboys and two teachers from the Lanfranc School in Croydon, also three of our own Eagle crew, when it hit the mountain Holtaheia.
We had been invited by the Mayor of Stavanger to attend the memorial events.
The brothers and sisters, relations and friends of the victims gathered together to climb the mountain to the memorial cross. Many Norwegian people also accompanied us.
Many express their gratitude that Eagle had a representative there. It was my privilege to lay the Eagle wreath at the memorial at the top of the mountain. The Norwegians had erected a granite memorial cross many years ago.
Our visit to the top of the mountain was followed by a very moving service in the Stavanger Cathedral, where the names of all the victims were read out.
After the service the Mayor of Stavanger had invited relatives and friends to a reception in the Atlantic Hotel in Stavanger. This gathering added something special where we could chat together; listen to the stories of brothers and sisters and other relatives, of how the accident affected them and how life has been since the disaster.
The hospitality that was given by the Norwegian people was remarkable. Their care and concern for us as we climbed the mountain was equally remarkable. I can only sincerely say to all those who cared for us and showed us hospitality, thank you.
A special mention should be made concerning the help and assistance given by the
Red Cross members who were in attendance whilst we were on the mountain.
As the event took place the clouds darkened over Stavanger and the wind became fairly strong, a symbolic reminder of the weather conditions that affected the aircraft
fifty years ago.
Most of the wreckage was buried in a bog on the mountain due to the difficulty of bringing it down. A rather strange thing I noticed was that parts of the aircraft were protruding out of the soil of the bog. I was told that due to the effect of severe frosts, it was pushing the wreckage up out of the earth. As I mused over the site, thoughts came to mind that the aircraft was saying do not forget the event of fifty years ago.
The following day we were bussed to the Stavanger Aviation Museum Sola. A special guide was provided to explain various sights of interest as we travelled to the museum.
At the museum a memorial was dedicated to the memory of those who were lost. Various parts of the aircraft had been retrieved from the mountain and displayed as a memorial. As the Eagle representative a presentation was made of a part of the aircraft, Papa Mike, to be held in the Eagle archives. I presented the museum with a framed
Cunard Eagle Tie with a small brass plaque In Remembrance.
To all those who played a part in the organisation of these events a sincere thank you. Your work will not be forgotten.
Pictures from the events