Wartime plane crash hero finally honoured

A LASTING memorial to a policeman whose bravery saved lives in a horrific war-time plane crash has been unveiled.

PC Thomas Beeston risked his life by plunging into the flames and dragging people to safety after two planes crashed above the old Blackpool Central Railway Station on August 27 1941.

The crash, which caused more civilian casualties than all the enemy air raids on the Fylde coast during the Second World War, has never been honoured by a memorial or plaque – until now.

PC Beeston’s widow, Margaret, and his son Michael, attended the unveiling at Blackpool North station, along with members of the emergency services, and the Ex Servicemen’s Association’s Standard Bearers.

Michael Beeston, who now lives in Edinburgh, said his father, who died in 1968, would have been “delighted and humbled” at the memorial.

He said: “My father was an extremely modest man, who always claimed to have simply been doing his job on that day.

“But he would have been humbled and delighted at this fantastic service and plaque, which his family believes he deserves. It will serve to remind people who don’t know about the disaster to stop and think about the bravery shown by the emergency services, and their continuing bravery and heroic actions today.”

Mrs Beeston added: “He didn’t think of himself as a hero, he just rushed in and did what he could to help. It’s such a long time ago and nothing has ever been done. It makes me very proud to think someone has done this for him.”

PC Beeston, who served in Blackpool’s Railway Police, was first on the scene after a Defiant N1745, which was practising formation flying, crashed with a Botha L6509 above the station that stood on the site now partly occupied by Coral Island.

He saved several lives, including a young girl, despite suffering burns which required nine days of treatment in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and he received 10 guineas for his act.

Sgt Dave Grant, based at Lancaster’s British Transport Police, came up with the idea for a plaque after reading about the accident on the Lancashire Air Accident Investigation’s website.

At yesterday’s ceremony, he said: “The report really touched me, especially the account of PC Beeston diving into flames, wreckage falling around him, and emerging with a little girl.

“He famously claimed he was just doing his job. He was heroic, but so are all the members of the emergency services. We have members of the police and fire service here today, and they too risk their lives on a daily basis.

“This plaque is for PC Beeston, and the civilians who died that day, but it will also remind people of the courage shown by our emergency services every day.”

The plaque, in the far left corner of the station, bears the message:

“To the memory of those who died

at Blackpool Central Station

on August 27 1941

and the brave efforts of PC Thomas Beeston (LMS Rail Police),

and the public citizens and residents who did all they could to save lives.”


First published in The Blackpool Gazette on Friday 28 August 2009.


Many thanks to BTPHG member Dax Byrne-Turner for bringing this incident to our attention, and also to Sergeant David Grant for proposing the plaque.

The article on the incident mentioned can be found on the Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team website.

Also an account of the ceremony can be found on the BBC News website, including an interview with PC Beeston’s widow.