Skip to main content

Flying Accident, Downside School

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

(by Private Notice) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has any statement to make on the accident which took place on Saturday, 15th May, on the playing fields at Downside School, as a result of which nine boys were killed and 15 wounded, 10 seriously; whether the strictest instructions will be given forbidding low flying over playing fields and buildings in future, and whether in any instructions issued the public will be invited immediately to report any low flying in similar circumstances, whether carried out by the Fleet Air Arm or the R.A.F.?

An official inquiry is being held into this tragic occurrence, and until this has completed its work it would be premature for me to make any detailed statement. I can, however, say at once that standing Admiralty orders prohibit flying below 2,000 feet except in a few specially selected training areas. Some cases of low flying by naval aircraft have previously been reported by members of the public and have been dealt with by the appropriate authorities. It would seem therefore that the public are well aware of their rights and duties in this matter. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the deep sympathy of the Board of Admiralty with the authorities of the school and the relatives of the boys who were killed and injured.

While not wishing to prejudice the issue in view of the inquiry, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is not aware that this was not just an incident and that these planes were flying low over the field for a considerable time, only a few feet above the ground, so that the game had to stop?

I am sure that all the necessary evidence will be given at the inquiry.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, unless questions of security are involved, making the report of the inquiry public?