I have spent most of the past couple of weeks sitting in a hospital with a dying relative. The lady is 84 and has been in ill health for some time. A heart attack a couple of years ago followed a bout of pneumonia, all of which she survived, has left her weak. Just before Christmas she had a brain haemorrhage and the clot has moved down into her leg stopping blood getting to her limb, and she has now come home to die. She is too weak to survive a full leg amputation, the only thing which may have saved her.

She is in good hands, the Dr. visits regularly, and she has a District Nurse who comes every day. She has a loving and supportive family who look after her very well. There is nothing that I can do and I doubt if she recognises me, or any of the others anyway.

Sitting in a room day after day, watching someones life fade away is not easy, and I had to get away for awhile. I made my excuses (and they gave me their blessing) and I was on the moors – I needed a good long walk by myself, nothing less than 10 miles would do and I relished every minute of it.

The beautiful prehistoric Pipers Crag carving

I walked along the ridge between Ilkley and Addingham, the views were exceptional and I eventually came across a small memorial to a downed World War 11 air plane. It was a RAF MKII deHaviland Mosquito, crashed on March 23rd 1943 at approximately 9.00pm.  Both crew members, the pilot Sgt John Hudson Staples and navigator Sgt Ralph Ernest Andrews were killed.

The memorial to the Mosquito in which 2 crew died

I soon turned South and followed part of the Roman Road across the moor and on the high ridge, about a mile from the first memorial I can across a second crash site. On January 21st 1944 at approximately 5.30pm an R.A.F Mk.V. Handley Page Halifax Bomber of the Heavy Conversion Unit based at R.A.F Dishforth near Ripon North Yorkshire crashed into the moorland at Long Ridge 1149 ft. up on Ilkley Moor.

The Halifax memorial

All 7 crew, who were in their early 20’s were killed. You can read more about this crash here. There are several other crash sites on Ilkley moor, but as far as I know these are the only two that have memorials.

Ironically, the crew (apart from one) are all buried at Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate – the same place that the sick relative will be buried, as her late husband has a plot there.

I think when my time is up I want to go out suddenly, rather than slowly fading away in pain. I guess most people would.

 

 

 

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