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Air & Train Tragedies
The derailed freight wagons.

Sunday Citizen July 28, 2002

The year is 1950 and instead of beginning with a bang, the decade begins not with a series of bangs but almost a sonic boom for on February 15th reports began to reach Bletchley Fire Brigade that - at high speed - an RAF jet had exploded over Bow Brickhill.

In the company of three other brigades they immediately rushed to the scene and after scouring 15 square miles of heavily wooded terrain, at Aspley Heath found the body of the pilot, still strapped into the wrecked cockpit, between Sandy Lane and Woburn Road.

The aircraft had been a DH108 'flying wing', piloted by 28-year-old Squadron Leader J Muller Rowland and with this being the dawn of the jet age and the contemporary testing of new and experimental aerial machines, perhaps it was a little premature to be removing the wartime air raid shelter from the front garden of 175, Water Eaton Road.

Yet even for terrestrial transport established complacency could often be derailed, as was the case with 14 wagons that piled up on the down fast line, just outside Bletchley station, having broken away from a fast freight train.

On the roads, especially the main arterial routes, matters were as equally hazardous, as the driver of a 16 ton Atkinson lorry found out.

Swerving to avoid a horse box, he then made a complete spectacle of himself by demolishing the automated traffic signals and ramming into the opticians premises of Leopold Durran, at the corner of Watling Street and Aylesbury Street.

Needless to say Mr Durran was hardly best pleased, having built up his business over many years.

As well as being a Fellow of the British Optical Association and Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers since 1913 he had also been a Fellow of the Institute of Opticians and during World War One served in the RAMC, as optician to the Military Hospital at Great Yarmouth.

On demob he returned to his practice in Fenny and from Jan¬uary, 1921, was appointed optician to the Buckinghamshire Education Committee. This position he then held for many decades and today he is com-memorated by Durrans Court, which recalls one of Fenn/s most prominent citizens.

Just around the corner, at No. 45 Church Street, Mr Sam Pope was also hoping to become a big noise and indeed was no stranger to a big noise, having seen action with the artillery in Burma, during World War Two. - Whilst serving with the Royal Bucks Yeomanry, in the maintenance of the field guns he had devised a novel procedure and by this the need for each gun to be out of action for half an hour was eliminated.

On the details being sent to the War Office, the procedure was then adopted throughout the 14th Army and as a reward Sam received 100 rupees from the Viceroy of India. During the continuing campaign the official letter was unfortunately lost but now back in Fenny Stratford, Sam petitioned the Royal Commission of Awards and Inventors, to reaffirm this recognition. salvoes but as equally surprising, the Salvation Army were now about to launch a 'salvo' of their own.

Salvation Army Major Fred Fielding and his wife had the bright idea of fitting out a canal boat, intending to undertake an evangelical inland waterways tour of over 2,000 miles.

Freshly painted in maroon, the vessel - indeed named 'Salvo' - was officially launched at Water Eaton on November 3. Crew aboard, off they sailed to calm troubled waters, but unfortunately this was a time when, on the global scene, far

Fenny, in the defence of international freedom, may thereby lay claim to having fired a few extra and valuable more than waters were troubled

The age of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War had arrived and in a rather sinister move even Flettons hostel was targeted, finding itself the surprised recipient of literature from the Soviet Embassy in London.

With, in the aftermath of World War Two, the distributio of refugees across Europe, this urged all Soviet citizens amongst the brickworkers to return home, promising not only free travel but also no restriction on the amounts of baggage they wished to take.

Disturbing stuff and perhap it was just as well that in Bletchley, lectures and training were now about to begin in Civil Defence.

With uniforms soon to be provided, plans were even made for the building of a gas chamber and a fire training hut since, with itchy fingers on the nuclear button, it could soon be fireworks for everyone.