Published: April 10, 2013
Roger recalls tragic 1973 aircrash which killed 108 Somerset people

A Highbridge resident has recalled how he lost his father and grandmother in a devastating aircrash that killed 108 local people exactly 40 years today.

On April 10th 1973 nearly 140 people, mainly mothers from the Cheddar area, boarded Invicta Airlines Flight 435 from Bristol Airport happily looking forward to a day's shopping and sightseeing in Basle.

Members of Axbridge Ladies Guild went on the trip along with women from Cheddar Mums' Night Out group, skittles players from Wrington and Congresbury, plus friends and relatives.

108 people were killed when the plane struck the tops of trees and crashed into a hillside trying to land at the Swiss airport during a snowstorm.

Among those mourning was Roger Keen, who was 14 at the time and now lives in Burnham Road, Highbridge. He lost his father, Roy, and grandmother, Louisa.

"It was a rare day off for my father and was a last-minute decision by him to join my grandmother," he told Burnham-On-Sea.com.

"The first I knew something was wrong was when I was walking home from school. A friend told me they'd heard there had been a crash but no-one knew any details."

"When I got home, there was a message waiting for me saying I should go straight away to my aunt."

"She told me the details of what she knew - we were all in a lot of shock to hear about the crash, but no-one knew who had died."

"We watched the TV for news of the lists of those who had been killed, but my dad and grandmother never appeared."

"It was another two days before we got conformation that they were among those who had died - it was a terrible day."

"The Cheddar area had its heart ripped out that day - so many families were devastated. There was hardly a family that was untouched."

In 2008, on the 35th anniversary of the crash, Roger flew a small plane from the UK to the crash site in Basle to visit the scene where he laid flowers at the crash site.

Now, he would like to see a permanent memorial introduced in Cheddar in memory of those who lost their lives. "It needn't cost lost of money - it could be a small plaque - but a small memorial should be introduced to mark this terrible day in Somerset's history," he said.

Roger and other people affected by the tragedy have this week been marking the anniversary by attending special church services.

Roger laying flowers at a memorial in Switzerland for those who died

 


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