Frank Stokes, aircraft crash survivor

Frank Stokes was a young airman when, on a routine exercise over the Brecon Beacons in January 1945, the aircraft in which he was travelling with his pilot crashed into the mountains.

Surviving the crash, but realising the pilot was severely injured, AC Stokes managed to stagger over two miles in the snow - crossing two streams in the process, despite suffering lacerated shins and a compression fracture of the spine.

Eventually, after a long and painful journey, he reached the Storey Arms Youth Hostel. The resident warden was on duty to flag down a passing motorist.

Sadly, the pilot of the aircraft had been so badly injured that he did not survive, but staff at the Welsh hospital slowly nursed Frank back to full health.

Mr Stokes moved to Liverpool, but never forgot the experience or the kindness of the Welsh people to whom he owed a debt of gratitude.

He wrote a fascinating account of the crash, with wonderful vignettes of hospital life in wartime Wales. In it, he paid tribute to the deep warmth and humanity of the people of Merthyr Tydfil, who “despite great hardship maintained a cheerfulness, which most could not match”.

Click here to download Frank Stokes' own story as a pdf.