Crashed Aircraft - St Albans - 1955

Near Miss at Beaumont School

By John Halsey

In November 1955 I was sitting in Mrs. Ireland’s class on the first floor of Beaumont School, St Albans looking down the playingfields towards Hatfield Road when I noticed a DH Venom Nightfighter 3, WX974, trying to make an emergency landing on the playingfields.  It ran out of room and just managed to fly over the roof of the school.  It then attempted to land on the rear playingfields before running across Sandpit Lane finally coming to rest in an orchard.  The pilot received minor injuries and by his actions prevented the aircraft from crashing into the school.

Photo taken the next day.

This page was added on 09/06/2011.

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  • I too remember this incident, I didn’t actually see the aircraft but certainly heard it and the shadow that it cast in the classroom as it flashed very close overhead. After school I went to the crash site but was thwarted by the police from actually getting near the wreck.

    By John May (23/01/2024)
  • I was attending to a call of nature, so just missed the actual flyover. The playing field and an adjoining one, without a dividing fence was huge. A massive furrow had been carved in the middle, the plane must have then bounced before exiting through a farmers fence, then going on a grand tour of the area. I did notice freshly damaged chimney pots on the gym, the gym was at the edge of the field and in line with the glide path, if caused by the plane it was very close.
    At assembly the next day, the head master, said that de Havilland’s had asked him, “Please can we have our plane back?” Many of the students had souvenired small parts.
    Full marks to the pilot, normal procedure I believe would have been to eject, but he saw were his plane was heading and hung in there. He did a great job controlling its flight path. I don’t know if he received an award for his effort, but he certainly should have.

    By David C Williams (22/10/2021)
  • Slight correction on aircraft serial, should be WX924

    By Jim Tomlinson (16/11/2020)
  • I remember the crash vividly, we were doing sport on the front playing field and as the aircraft came overhead just missing the school we ran to the rear playing field

    By Terry Yates (11/11/2013)
  • How very odd! I was in the playground at the time of the crash and saw it fly over and always wondered about the circumstances. Had I looked around I might have seen John but I can’t remember his name. Perhaps John you were among the crowd watching the bright disc directly over the playground on sunny cloud free day. Reckon it was probably a star but that’s the closest I’ve come to being able to claim a UFO sighting. Happy memories.

    By Alistair Robertson (08/07/2011)