AS PEOPLE were preparing to celebrate bonfire night on November 5, 1945, tragedy struck on a peak above Bolton Abbey, claiming the lives of four young Canadian airman.

The Lancaster bomber, in which the eight crew were on a training flight from RAF Leeming, ploughed into the side of Beamsley Beacon, 50 feet from the summit.

Seventy years later, the disaster is to be commemorated with the dedication of a plaque on the trig point on Beamsley Beacon on Saturday, when members of 1224 Wharfedale Air Cadets – based in Ilkley – will assemble at 2.30pm, weather permitting.

The plaque contains the names of the four airman who perished – pilot F/O Walter Conley, aged 25; flight engineer F/Sgt Arnold Stinson, 20; bomb aimer F/O Wallace Lang, 20; passenger, Cpl William Ellis, 30 – and survivors navigator, F/O Alan Coleman, flight engineer F/Sgt John Moran, wireless operator and air gunner Sgt Joseph Belanger and leading aircraftsman Reginald Henderson, who was also a passenger.

Of the survivors, only Joseph Belanger was able to scramble from the wreckage and struggle down the hillside, seeking help at Black Hill Farm, before being taken to Ilkley Coronation Hospital with head injuries and suffering from shock.

The other three survivors were taken down the mountain to waiting ambulances and then on to High Royds Hospital at Menston, where they recovered.

The crash happened just short of midday, so the impact was heard by many people who rushed up the hillside to search for the wreckage.

Tragedy struck in thick mist, the pilot having dropped height to see if the navigator could get a land sighting – against flying regulations – the bomber striking the southern slope.

Warrant Officer David Wood, of Ilkley Air Cadets, said: "The dedication will not be elaborate – we just wish to mark what happened and to remember them."

The research had been carried out by Ilkley squadron member Sgt Sam White, who designed the plaque and was able to trace the widow of the pilot, who lives in Mold, Wales, David added.

The plaque cost almost £600 and Sam and his family donated £100 with a further £350 given towards the cost. David said he hoped squadron members, past and present, will help raise the remainder.