RAF Meteor Jet Crash

Eye witness account by Dave Cowan

Eye witness account of the plane chash
1.30 mins - A loud bang and soil and chickens were raining down.
Meteor F8 jet similar to that which crashed
Stahlkocher under Wikimedia Commons
Jet Aircraft Crash
The Times 14th April 1952

I was in the garden at Watlington Road, Benfleet around lunch time on the 12th April 1952 with my father and uncle. I went indoors as my mother called me in as a meal was ready, immediately there was a roar, followed by a scream from my father and uncle  followed by a large bang. I looked out of the door and my father and uncle were on the ground with their arms over their heads, there was the sound of things falling from the sky. I went out into the front garden and there was mud, metal and chickens laying everywhere. Dead chickens were hanging from the telegraph wires; some houses had holes in their roof. Across the road was smoke coming up from the gardens between Philmead Road and Watlington Road.

Luckily no one was hurt but a RAF aircraft had crashed in our neighbours’ gardens.¬† Investigators came down and tried to collect all the parts of the aircraft to establish the cause, however many bits were squirreled away by young lads who just wanted a trophy.

A brief mention in ‘The Times’ on Monday 14 April 1952 stated:


An RAF jet aircraft from Biggin Hill station in Kent crashed on a bungalow estate at South Benfleet Essex on Saturday, killing 18 birds in a chicken house. The pilot bailed out and landed safely at Rawreth, fives miles away”

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  • I too recall this plane crash. I lived in Jotmans Lane and we were outside and the plane went overhead so low you felt you could touch it and shortly afterwards there was a loud crash. As a kid I recall going round to Watlington Road and seeing the crater in the backyard.

    By Andrew McDonald (20/10/2015)
  • I lived up the road from Dave Cowan – at the junction of Watlington Road and Perry Road. I, too, can remember this crash and how thankful we all were to know that no human was injured in it. It was, for a time, very nerve-wracking for my father who was in the Fire Brigade based at Hadleigh. When he was called out to attend the incident the only indication of the crash site was “Watlington Road, Benfleet”. Imagine his relief when he got to the site and found that we were not involved and that there had been no personal injury!

    By Tony Choat (08/01/2012)
  • There are various sites on the web that mention the crash including Ejection history and https://www.key.aero/forum/historic-aviation/89001-meteor-wf700-crashed-benfleet-essex-1952 which give some details.

    The accident on 12th April 1952 was an RAF Gloster Meteor F.8 number WF700 from 41 squadron at Biggin Hill. The crash was caused by a fire in the air resulting in loss of control of the plane. The pilot, Sqn. Ldr. J. Miller, sustained bruises during parachute development and tore a cartilage on landing. He escaped using a MB-MK1-1948 ejector seat (2).

    By Phil Coley (01/03/2011)

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