JACK Lockwood, from Skipton, was probably first on the scene when a Polish airplane crashed near Bradley killing everyone on board.

In April 2007 their sacrifice was remembered when a monument was erected on the canal at the site of the crash.

IN September 1943 I was employed as a 17-year-old, by the West Riding War Agricultural Executive Committee, or "War Agg" as it was more generally known, in the Craven community.

I was employed to assist in the repair and maintenance of the large fleet of mainly Fordson Tractors owned by the "War Agg".

Throughout Craven, depots for the tractors and associated farm implements were established in some of the villages. At each depot a male foreman would be in charge. The tractor drivers were all ladies from the Women's Land Army, or Land Girls as they were affectionately known.

These tractors were introduced to the hilly Craven region to assist the local farmers to plough up a percentage of their grassland and plant wheat, barley, oats and root crops. The headquarters of the local "War Agg" were in offices in the yard behind the Castle pub in Skipton. Mr Dodgson, a farmer from Bank Newton, was the chairman of the local "War Ag".

The maintenance and overhaul of this large fleet of Fordson Tractors was carried out at what had been before the war, a local garage and filling station. This garage was situated on the A629 (Skipton - Keighley road) approximately 250 yards north of Cononley Lane End. It was built completely of metal corrugated sheeting, the walls, the roof and the sliding doors entrance at the front. On a windy day it rattled and shook from top to bottom. It was not very big, measuring approximately 25ft x 50ft.

At this location, all the larger overhauls and repairs were carried out. Two of us would go out to the farms for smaller repairs, such as a faulty magneto or if a tractor failed to start.

There were four of us employed at Cononley Lane End Garage, (as it was known). Cecil Green from Cowling was the working foreman mechanic. He was assisted by Alan (24), Arthur (17) and myself. Between the four of us, we kept the large tractor fleet running.

On September 1943, the four of us were sitting in the workshop enjoying our midday break of probably Spam sandwiches and a mug of tea. It was about 12.45pm when suddenly, on this mild summer day, the corrugated sheeting of the garage began to rattle and shake. In no time at all it became deafening. Everything stored on the wall shelves, due to the excessive vibrations of the building, fell to the floor. We did not hear them fall due to the noise which the garage was making.

I think fright was the first reaction of all four of us. Nobody could move, it was as if we were all paralysed. Not a word was spoken, nor did a morsel enter our mouths. Then, as suddenly as the deafening noise and vibrations had started, to our utmost relief, they stopped. Followed almost immediately by a bang, not ear splitting, but definitely a bang.

In the eerie silence that followed, we gathered our scattered wits and sprang into action. The four of us rushed to the sliding doors entrance to try to establish the cause of our fright.

Sure enough, about 350 yards to our left and to the north towards what in those days was Winifred's Café it was plain to see what had happened. A bomber had crushed into the banking, which separated the road from the canal.

The canal at that point is above the road and quite near to it.

While Cecil Green went back into the garage to phone the emergency services, we three set off for the crash site as fast as our young legs could carry us. When we arrived there less than three minutes later, the sight that met our eyes, was one of utter destruction.

Wreckage of the plane was strewn all over the road and up the banking. The trees in the banking were all broken and twisted. Most macabre of all, at the top of one of the unbroken trees was an airman's long boot, with half a leg sticking out of it.

Two or three small fires were still burning at the crash site and smoke was billowing out from different places, but not too much. There was no sign at all of any life; the crew I am sure must have perished immediately.

We stayed viewing the terrible scene, being unable to do anything constructive. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes later the first fire engine from Skipton appeared. They extinguished the small fires and cordoned off the immediate area of the wreckage from the few bystanders that had now gathered.

There weren't many people about, as the A629 road was not a busy one due to petrol rationing. The most frequent vehicle passing the Cononley Lane End Garage in 1943 were the half hour interval buses, between Skipton and Keighley.

As more emergency services started to arrive, the three of us, after being assured that there was nothing we could do, turned around and made our way back to the garage and work. This we continued to do until finishing time at five o'clock.

I remember catching the 5.20pm bus back to Skipton from Cononley Lane End. As the bus passed the crash scene, I noticed that the emergency services had cleared part of the road, which had been totally blocked by the wreckage. Passing the devastated scene, I stole a quiet look at the top of the tree and, yes, the airman's boot complete with leg was still up there.

The following morning on my way to work, most of wreckage had been cleared. The boot had been cleared from the top of the tree. The most vivid reminder of that sad afternoon were the stunted trees which had been broken with the impact of the crash. They were there as a longer reminder of the terrible tragedy of September 23, 1943.

I passed the site six days a week on my way to work, always remembering what had happened. A few months later I enlisted in the armed forces and soon had other things to think about.

Looking back almost 64 years, it still surprises me that this terrible accident aroused so little interest in Skipton. It was not a general topic of conversation. Understandably due to wartime censorship, there was no mention of what happened in the Craven Herald or other newspapers. Today it would have been on national TV and given a lot of coverage in the media, despite there still being a war on.

I feel that Peter Whitaker and Jim Hartley have done a fantastic job in highlighting the tragic events of September 23, 1943 and tracing the seven Polish airman who gave their lives in defence of our country. Long may the memorial monument remain on the canalside. It will remind future generations hopefully, of the sacrifices made during the dark days of the war, by our Polish allies.