Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Brecon Becons - The Wellington Bomber crash site


Last weekend I went to the Brecon Beacons, and payed a visit to one of the most unique sites I have ever been to.

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Over the past 12 years or so, since I started photographing and becoming interested in exploring and visiting new places to, essentially, see what they looked like photographed, I have been to quite a few unusual places, buildings and spooky surroundings. My interest in the decay of life once lived, my love of the mechanical intertwining with the natural has grown and grown, and of course I have become fascinating in Urban Exploration, and the synonymous melancholy of photography and the past. I've walked along derelict corridors of closed asylums; discovered cages and huts from a former wildlife park amidst thick woods; explored derelict residential areas full of decay and ghostly artifacts of normal every day life.

But this site on the barren mountains of Brecon was even more different again. In 1944, on a dark November night, a Wellington Bomber carrying six Royal Canadian Air Force crew, took off over the Brecon Beacons on a training flight. What should have been a routine training exercise turned into something more sinister. The plane began to have engine problems, and dangerously lost height. Unable to recover, the plane crashed into the south west slope of Garreg Goch, killing all six crew.

Incredibly, much still remains of this tragic crash. Wreckage adorns the side of the mountain, pieces of metal lie innocuously scattered amongst the rocks and grass and occasional sheep. You would imagine items would get taken; snaffled by souvenir hunters, or people hoping to sell metal on. But thankfully not, perhaps the fact the site is not easily accessible wards off any vandals, thieves and disrespectful intentions some may have.

In fact, the site is not easily spotted, even up close. Incredibly, the colour of the metal camouflages itself next to the hue of the rocks on the hill; I stood but 50 yards or so away from the wreckage, and at first did not see it - like a chameleon, it has become part of the landscape. Yet again, nature always holds the power, always seems to triumph, no matter what man builds or creates or sweats to achieve. The war plane - so mechanical, such a symbol of man's technology and self-destructing nature - now a relic belonging to the hills.

But the site is also a grave. And after taking my photos, we were left to pay our respects to the brave crew of the plane, who lost their lives on that dark night, many miles from their homes. On the beautiful, yet ominous mountain peaks of the Brecon Beacons. What is left of them is skeletal plane remains. Look, but do not touch; photograph, capture what is there so that before the elements slowly erode their memory, we can have a record of their last physical existence.

See the complete set of photos of the Wellington bomber crash site here.

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