Phyllis was a 14-year-old school girl in Montreal when her brother, Flying Officer William Joseph Allison, one of the six man crew of Wellington MF 509, was killed in the air crash at Carreg Goch on the Black Mountain 69 years ago. It is thought the Canadian RAF plane, which was on a training flight, had flown into a cloud and developed engine trouble shortly before it hit the mountainside.
Now 83-years-old, Phyllis feared she would never see the isolated part of the Western Bannau Brycheiniog which claimed her brother and five others on November 20 1944. She had planned a trip to the site previously but couldn’t travel because of ill-health. However, with the help of Wardens from Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, Phyllis and her husband Robert were finally transported to Carreg Goch on Monday, July 15th.
The wardens used utility vehicles to safely negotiate the rocky climb to the remains of the Wellington MF 509. Phyllis and Robert were joined by six family members, local historians and a representative from the Canadian RAF. Once at the site the family prayed and read out poetry standing at the memorial erected at the spot.
“I’m now 83, my husband is 80. I knew I couldn’t climb up the mountain,” said Phyllis, “At one point it was suggested that we went up by helicopter, but I said I didn’t want to fly in to where my brother crashed. [Local historian] Arwel Michael, helped to co-ordinate our visit, and said he would approach the National Park Authority Wardens. They wanted to help us and these vehicles were the easiest way. We’re so thankful for the help we’ve received to make this happen.”
Describing her visit to the Bannau Brycheiniog, Phyllis added: “It’s other worldly, it’s just unbelievable. I feel closer to my family now than I have in years. I was the youngest of seven children and they’ve all passed on. I can’t share this with them on the phone.
“I feel close to my brother and his fiancé. I feel that their presence is with me. I remember the last time I saw him, it was a very vivid day in my life. My brother had had time off and we knew he was going away. I can still see it now, he walked down the street, as he turned the corner my mother said ‘I’m never going to see my son again.’”
Judith Harvey, Chief Warden for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “Carreg Goch isn’t the most accessible of sites if you aren’t fully mobile, and we wanted to go the extra mile to support Phyllis on her emotional journey. It was a moving experience for the whole family, and I’m glad that the Wardens team were able to make it happen. I am really grateful to the local firms who also understood how important this was and supported the trip by providing these Kawasaki MULE vehicles.”
Wreckage at air craft sites is the property of the Ministry of Defence. It is a criminal offence to remove debris from these sites without permission.
The National Park Authority, in conjunction with the RAF Association, produces an ‘Aircraft Crash Sites and the Stories Behind Them’ booklet for those interested in learning more about these unique locations. The booklet can be purchased at the National Park Visitor Centre, near Libanus, or via the National Park Authority’s Online Shop www.beacons-npa.gov.uk/shop/.