Turkish Airline Crash at Newdigate

1959, 17 February: Turkish airliner crash at Newdigate: Turk Hava Yollari (Turkish Airlines) was carrying a government party including Mr. Menderes the Prime Minister. He escaped only to be executed a few years later for treason.

1959: BBC: Turkish leader involved in fatal crash: Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes has survived an air crash near London that killed twelve people. Mr Menderes was on his way to the British capital for talks on Cyprus with the British, Greek and Cypriot premiers when his Viscount jet crashed in Jordan's Wood, near Newdigate in Surrey.

Only ten of the twenty two passengers and crew on board the Turkish Government aircraft survived and two were critically injured. An official from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said it was the worst crash he had seen. Turkish press secretary Sefik Penmen told an impromptu conference at the London Clinic: "The Prime Minister's condition is quite satisfactory and a bulletin will be issued at 1000 tomorrow. He is feeling quite alright, though he is very sorry about what has happened to his friends."

The plane - from Istanbul - was diverted from Gatwick Airport because of fog and was due to arrive at London Airport at 1600 GMT when it went missing off the radar.

First on the scene: Local resident Margaret Bailey, a trained nurse, was one of the first on the scene - three miles along the flight path from Gatwick - shortly after 1700 GMT. At about that time the plane carrying Greek Prime Minister Constantin Karamanlis landed at Gatwick without incident. The Turkish jet lost its wings and had its engines torn off as it ploughed three hundred yards through the wood and landed upside down with trees embedded in the mangled fuselage and burst into flames.

Three divisions from Surrey Fire Brigade put out the resulting fires although their efforts were hampered by thick fog. After receiving first aid at Mrs Bailey's farmhouse, two hundred yards away, Mr Menderes was taken to hospital in London ninety minutes later. Other casualties are being treated at hospitals in East Grinstead, Redhill and Dorking.

Michael Smith (Brockham Resident): I remember this crash very well. It was not that long after the new Gatwick opened. My mother heard a thump noise (they lived this end of Newdigate) and the Viscount went into a wood near the Russ Hill ridge just off the Newdigate to Rusper Road. It belonged to Turk Hava Yollari (Turkish Airlines) and was carrying a government party including Mr Menderes the Prime Minister. He escaped only to be executed a few years later for treason.

I explored those woods only a few weeks later and found a few metal pieces that the authorities missed. In fact I still have one piece that I suppose I shouldn't have but the clear up wasn't very thorough. For years afterwards you could see the broken tops of trees from the road.

The cause was officially put down to altimeter error so it was too far below the glide path and in poor visibility so they were unlucky - thirty feet higher and runway 09 would have appeared soon after. The thump noise from about two miles must have been due to the fairly direct line of sight and the weather conditions I guess.

The Viscount was a 700 series (V 794D) and it was registered TC-SEV and first flew from Hurn production line on 16 July 1958, and was delivered to THY on 1st August and had flown 555 hrs and 380 cycles up to the accident date. The remains were transported to Croydon aerodrome for analysis.

I had a small interest as I was once stuck at Ankara airport for two to three days and spent the time watching the THY comings and goings, mostly Dakotas I think.

1959: Dorking Advertiser: A Turkish Airline bringing Turkish Prime Minister to London for talks on Cyprus crashed in a wood known as "The Jordans", a part of Chaffolds Farm, on Captain Evelyn Broadwood's Lyne Estate on Tuesday afternoon in thickening fog. Mr Menderes was slightly injured but sustained severe shock.

The Viscount appeared to be making a normal approach when it vanished from the radar screen at Gatwick Control. As the plane descended on Jordan's Wood it struck a clump of trees and skidded for some distance; its wings were wrenched off and the nose section was wrecked; the fuselage remained more or less intact and the tail section snapped off and was left hanging in nearby trees.

A fire which broke out in the wreckage was quickly put out by firemen. Officials went from Gatwick to the scene and set up an improvised wireless relay service. Fire hoses had to be dragged several hundred yards from the road through the woods and it was three hours before the last of the bodies were taken from the scene.

Geoff Bloomfield: After the emergency personnel had searched the scene, one person on the passenger list could not be accounted for. As a dog handler I attended with others to search a wider area. All I remember was that Bill Redwood had a young Doberman pup called Dinko. Once the dog was let loose it ran off and the call of "Dinko" echoed through the woods, until the dog was recovered. It transpired that the passenger we were looking for had never boarded the plane in the first place.

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