When I was six years old my father took me to where heroic pilot Bruce Smeaton’s plane crashed in the corner of a field. He managed to keep his stricken aircraft airborne long enough to clear the school and houses of Cutsyke, saving countless of lives sacrificing his own.
The area where he crashed the new coal link road passes over and as a fitting tribute I think it should be named Bruce Smeaton Way.
Some years later I was appointed caretaker at Cutsyke First School and in the boilerhouse found Bruce’s shield covered in dirt and grime. After being cleaned up and refurbished by the RAF Association at Castleford it was put up on display in the hall. On May 10 each year lilac blossom is placed at Ackton Pastures Primary school. This tradition has been continued by the current caretaker Robert Clarkson.
On the 50th anniversary in 1991 we had a collection from local people and bought a wreath of flowers shaped like a RAF roundel in red, white and blue.
The headteacher, Anne Bullock, took a group of children, myself, and local people to place the wreath on Bruce’s grave.
I asked the RAF at Church Fenton if they would do a flypast over the school and crash site which they did at lunchtime with a Tocano aircraft, delighting the children in the playground.
JOHN A BOOTH