PENSIONER Ken Butterfield has laid a wreath on the 65th anniversary of a plane crash in which a fellow air cadet died and which he only survived through a quirk of fate.

Ken, 80, who lives off Walmgate, said that having joined 110 (City of York) Squadron in 1946, he was attending his first air training corps cadet camp at RAF Leconfield when he climbed on board a Wellington bomber to go on a training flight.

“The pilot said there was a fault and we had to disembark,” said Ken, who later on became a Flight Lieutenant. “We went up on another aircraft but a fellow cadet, Tony Lain, and Robbie Hall, a cadet from 116 (Archbishop Holgate’s Grammar School) Squadron went up in the Wellington after a repair had been carried out.”

The training flight involved dummy attacks on the Wellington by a Spitfire, but the aircraft collided and fell to the ground at Appleton-le-Moors near Kirkbymoorside, killing everyone, said Corps historian Ray Kidd.

“I have never forgotten Tony,” said Ken, who played a major part in arranging for a commemorative citation to be placed at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington.

Cadet Lain was in the process of hand crafting an ATC plaque in the form of a metal shield when he was killed. Many years later as Officer Commanding 110 Squadron, Ken discovered the shield, which was three-parts completed and set about completing the work. The plaque hangs in the Air Gunners' Room at Elvington in memory of the cadet.

Cadet Lain was buried in York Cemetery and Ken attended a remembrance ceremony held at his graveside on Tuesday evening.

The ceremony was conducted by the 110 City of York Squadron padre, the Reverend Graham Maskery, with the Act of Remembrance by the squadron commander Flight Lieutenant Paul Sewart and the Last Post and Reveille played by bugler Colin Carr, while Pipe Major Jim Sharpe played The Lament on the bagpipes.

Cadets also laid crosses on the grave before Ken laid the wreath.