Relatives of an RAF hero killed in a Kirkcaldy air crash are set to visit town memorial this week
The relatives of an RAF hero killed in a Kirkcaldy air crash are set to visit a town memorial dedicated to him this week.
The family of senior aircraftman Daniel McLoughlin are travelling from Luton to visit the tribute in Dunnikier Park which was erected in memory of him and Flight Lieutenant Mike Withey.
Both airmen died when their meteor jet plane crashed into trees in Dunnikier Park, Kirkcaldy on October 18, 1957.
The tragic accident happened when they were flying from West Raynham, Norfolk to Turnhouse in Edinburgh.
They were diverted to RAF Leuchars due to bad weather but while they were en route the Gloster Meteor jet developed an engine fault and crashed in Dunnikier Park, only just missing Kirkcaldy High School.
Daniel was only 19 years old when he was killed.
Rosemary Potter, secretary of Kirkcaldy Civic Society, said: “When his plane was diverted from RAF Turnhouse in Edinburgh to RAF Leuchars in 1957 because of poor weather, and an engine malfunctioned over Kirkcaldy, the pilot, Flt. Lt. Mike Withey, is believed to have seen school children from Templehall School out in the playing fields and deliberately stayed in the cockpit with SAC Daniel McLoughlin to steer the plane away from the school. The resulting crash took the lives of both men.
“Catherine Daly is the niece of Daniel McLoughlin, but she never knew of Daniel's story till now.”
Rosemary explained that in April this year Mrs Daly had been looking through her late mother's papers to make a family tree when she read her uncle’s death certificate. She was stunned to learn her uncle had lost his life in an aviation tragedy.
Mrs Daly said: “My uncle’s death certificate stated that he died on 18th October 1957 an that it was an aircraft accident in Kirkcaldy.
“To my amazement I discovered there was a memorial stone erected in Kirkcaldy in the memory of my uncle and the pilot.
"I was so stunned to find out how my uncle Daniel had died. I was overwhelmed but also proud to find out that uncle Daniel was one of the two R.A.F. members who gave up their lives to save others and that a plaque was arranged by the Kirkcaldy Civic Society dedicated to their memory.
"I had no idea (nor did my brother) of the way my uncle had died and we also believe my mother was also unaware.”
Mrs Daly has travelled up to Kirkcaldy with her husband Philip and brother George this week to visit the tribute. She continued: “We decided to visit the memorial so we could feel closer to the family member that we never had in our life. Daniel was always loved and missed in our family.”
The memorial to the airmen was erected in Dunnikier Park in 2008 and the plaque was unveiled by the sister of Flight Lieutenant Mike Withey, Maureen O’Mara but sadly Daniel’s family could not be traced at the time.
Mrs Daly added: “Our family is most grateful to Kirkcaldy Civic Society for erecting the memorial. I can’t thank the Society enough, as my uncle’s memory is now set in stone – It’s such a beautiful gesture. With that, my two sons have something to pass on to their children and future generations to come. I’m extremely proud.”