At about 15:00 on Sunday, June 18th, 1972 a BEA (British European Airways) Trident Aircraft G-ARPI, took off from Heathrow Airport bound for Brussels (flight BE548).
Shortly after takeoff, the engine stalled. The plane crashed on Staines Moor, near the busy A30 road.
All 118 souls on board the aircraft died (although two survived the crash itself).
The Papa India disaster is still the worst plane crash in British history, with the exception of Lockerbie.
Every year, on the anniversary of the tragedy, a memorial service is held at the St Mary’s Church in Staines. This year’s service was held on Wednesday, June 18.
Prayers were led by one of the first nurses to attend the crash scene: Frances Castledine MBE.
Uniformed British Airways employees also participated, including Captain Tim Steeds. Captain Steeds read a passage taken from 2 Corinthians.
Representatives from Staines Preparatory School, Spelthorne Council and Surrey County Council also attended, along with local parishioners. Two wreaths were placed near the memorial window.
All 118 names from the book of remembrance were read out to the congregation.
An organ piece piece – the voluntary “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations (Elgar) was played.
A stained glass memorial is located inside the church. The window was designed by Artemis Decorative Glass (of Staines) and depicts a dove in flight – soaring above a landscape of trees. The window is framed by stars, each star symbolising one of the 118 lost souls. http://artemis-decorative-glass.co.uk/?portfolio=a
Staines-upon-Thames also has a memorial at the crash site. This is located behind the Moormede Estate.
The memorial was inaugurated 32 years after the actual incident.
Local resident, Eric, remembers that the monument was vandalized just 3-4 days after being installed.
Since then, the monument has been the subject of a criminal damage on several other occasions.
News and Pictures (this page) by Sue@adpontes-staines.com
Main image by TSRL