In A Jersey Midsummer Tale I incorporated a tragic story – that of the death of a young lad. He was wiped out by a plane which was attempting to take off from the beach at Jersey’s West Park. During the 1930s – until the airport was opened in 1938 – the sands on Jersey’s south coast were used for all aircraft movements.
Although the novel was set in 1935 the actual incident took place in August of the previous year. For a long time this has been nagging at me. Did the lad (I’ll leave out names for the present though it is of public record) have any relatives still alive in Jersey to this day?
Well, tracing descendants is harder than tracing forebears. However the excellent Jersey Archive Service gave me a lead. Indeed the young boy had an older brother. And, cutting the story short, I was delighted to recently correspond and then speak with the brother’s widow. She told me that, indeed, her husband rarely spoke about the accident.
She went on to say the dead lad’s mother was never the same again and indeed she and her husband had to move house as the cemetery where their son was buried was just around the corner.
She then went on to recount that, a number of years later, the father – a policeman – was killed when on duty helping out at a big international car race at Bel Royal, not a stone’s throw from where his son had been killed. (Again this accident is on public record.) And, in a further twist, the elder son, himself now in the police force, was sent to investigate his father’s accident.
And if that wasn’t enough there is more. At the time of the young lad’s death on the beach he had a baby sister. She is still alive and in care. Which is why I must leave it vague at this stage.
A sad tale which is maybe best left to rest there.