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This club is famous for... the bomber that crashed on the course

This club is famous for… the bomber that crashed on the course

The night wartime drama came to a North Yorkshire field
 

Every golf club in the country has a story to tell of local legends and achievements that have gone down in local history.

Here at National Club Golfer, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to recall some of these fascinating tales that make each and every golf club in the UK a special place to be.

Sandburn Hall is famous for the Halifax bomber that crashed on the course

Tucked away in the corner of the clubhouse at York club Sandburn Hall is a picture of a Second World War bomber.

Truth be told, if you didn’t know where to look you almost certainly miss it.

But, as the cliché goes, there is a story behind every picture – and the one surrounding this image is particularly dramatic.

Halifax bomber

Long before golf dominated the picturesque land around Flaxton and Griffon Forest, it was farmland and, as the Allies pushed into France in the week after D-Day, the need to get pilots and planes into the air was paramount.

Late on the evening of June 12, 1944, the crew of Halifax JN953 were undertaking a bombing exercise over York when, flying at 5,000 feet, one of the engines failed.

They were a new group, having only just arrived at 428 Squadron at Dalton, in North Yorkshire, after completing a training course at Wombleton the week before.

The plane had already seen a chequered history, 80 holes having been punched into it when hit by German fire on a mission to Magdeburg in January.

Piloting the Halifax was Flying Officer J Martin, who commanded six others, and he ordered the crew to bale out as he tried to make a forced landing.

It was not an easy task. Scouring the wreckage afterwards, a propeller blade from the engine was found to be missing at the time of the crash.

Martin steered the stricken aircraft towards a field to the west of Claxton Hall.

As he came in to land, the Halifax clipped two trees, which block errant drives on the 16th fairway, before coming to rest on what is now the green.

IMG_0569

The plane caught fire as it hit the ground and Martin was pulled from the wreckage suffering from serious injuries. A broken back, ankle, burns and shock were the tally of the brave flyer’s efforts to make a safe landing.

Unsurprisingly, the bomber was written off. It was the last time a front line squadron would lose a MkII Halifax during the war.

While the sight of warplanes above York and North Yorkshire are, thankfully, now consigned to memory, the legacy lives on.

Aside from the painting at Sandburn Hall, which opened in 2005, the Halifax Trophy commemorates the night high drama came to rural Ryedale.

It is given to the player who records the best four gross scores in monthly medals.

Click here for the full ‘This Club Is Famous For’ archive

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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