The Von Werra Incident

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Personal reminiscences

By David Kirk BEM

I set out below the events as they happened on that day in 1956 when the book "The One That Got Away" was being written, and then I follow that with the account that Sam Eaton then told me.

  I was 18 years old and my job at Pye Bridge railway station was working in the  Booking Office and I was also the customer face who dealt with any members of  the public visiting the station. On that morning - sometime in March or April 1956 - the Chief Goods Clerk (Sam  Eaton), came to me and said that during the course of the morning there would be  two people coming to see him and would I advise him as soon as they  arrived.

This I did and he asked me if he could have a corner of my office  for them to have a short meeting. This then took place and I continued with  my work, over hearing a little but as I had no idea what it was all  about most of it passed me by. At the end of the discussion Sam was  photographed standing in front of the racks of tickets in the Booking  Office. After these two people had left, Sam asked if I was aware what it was  all about. I said that I did not and then he related to me the following. 

He said that during the war he was employed by the LMS Railway  Company as a Booking Clerk at Codnor Park Station. As he lived at Langley Mill  he had to walk to work in order to book tickets on the first train. His route  was on the footpaths over the fields via Stoneyford to Codnor Park  Station. On this particular morning he was booking tickets for the people travelling  to work when a man dressed in what appeared to be a flying suit arrived and  told him that he was a Dutch Pilot and had crashed his plane in the fields to  the south. Sam who had only just walked through the fields to the south was  surprised  that he had not seen or heard anything of it.

The  pilot asked him to ring his base in the North Of Scotland to tell them but the  number could not be obtained. Sam therefore rang the RAF Base at Hucknall and  also the local police. The pilot was not happy when Sam told him that he had  advised the police . The RAF said that they would send a car for him and the police also said  that they would attend.   

The first to arrive was the local police, I can see Sam now describing the  rather elderly policeman arriving breathlessly on a push bike and was very much  out of his depth confronting the pilot. 

The arrival of the RAF car saved the situation and the pilot was taken to  Hucknall. 

The reason for the presence of the two men was that a book was to be  written and they needed his version of events at the station. The photograph  taken of Sam in front of the ticket rack appears in the book.  At that time I would have estimated that Sam would have been in his mid  50's.  This was the first time that I had heard of this event as I don't think  that it was ever made public until this book was produced. 

The station where all of this took place was the LMS  Codnor Park  Station (nearer to Swanwick than the LNER station)and which was sited on the main  line between Nottingham Midland and Sheffield and which had 4 platforms and 4  lines and sited in a cutting. The platforms were  accessed from the  road by flights of steps leading down to the lines. The other station (just further down the road) was sited on the LNER  Nottingham Victoria to Pinxton Branch line and had only 2 lines and 2 platforms  and was sited on an embankment with steps/slope up to the lines. 

I hope that this is helpful to you, it may be that with the passage of  time  that there will be few people who would know of this detail. I feel  very privileged to pass this on for historical accuracy. I have never forgotten  it and Sam's role in it which is played by an actor in the film. I feel that I  am doing him a service in recounting that day in 1956 when he told me all about  it.


For related article on the Von Werra Incident, click HERE

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