Trail to survival

Trail to survival

John Hamshire, Daily Express Wednesday April 11th 1973

FOOTPRINTS in the snow led rescuers to survivors from the Vanguard, which came down onits back after wingtip struck a fir tree. They were made by a passenger who staggered out of the wreckage-and stumbled on a search party from nearby Hochwald. 

He spoke no German, but able the villagers went back to follow his steps to the shattered plane before the raging snow had time to wipe them clean. 

” It took us two hours before we could get some of the injured into the house,’ said 26-year-old Rosa Biri, who lives nearest to the wooded hill where the Vanguard crashed. “But what could we do with those terrible injuries”. The plane had torn down trees and there were bodies and wreckage all around. “We found some injured under the snow. In all we must have got 40 or 50 back to our homes.” But most of them died. 

She had heard the doomed Vanguard getting lower and lower. My God,” she told her husband: That’s a plane. must have lost its way. It I pray it doesn’t crash into us. Planes never fly over here.” And in fact the Vanguard- call sign Oscar Papa-was twelve and a half miles from Base Airport. It missed it original approach and was circling to come in from the south-east.

We heard nothing from the pilot, no emergency signal, or anything,” said official. an airport. But the aircraft had gone from the radar screens which showed that it was extremely low.” The first section of the plane completely disintegrated but the tail and about 15ft. of fuselage remained intact and rolled on to its side, 100ft. down the mountain. Those who survived are thought to have been in this tail section. 

Twelve of the 39 survivors were taken to the hospital in Dornach, which is closest to Hochwald. All of them are in good condition and should be released tomorrow doctors said, Six more have already left hospital. Others, more badly hurt went to Basle, Tonight, as darkness fell. rescue teams including police and units of the Swiss Army- were battling through blizzard, sifting through the wreckage to see if there were any other survivors. ” I saw at least 80 bodies in the wreckage,’ said an eye- witness. They were still strapped into their seats.” As the bodies were brought out of the plane they laid were on a small path in the woods. And as the blizzard raged, they vanished under a foot of snow. The crew were named as: Commander Captain Ivor Terry, Avenue Gardens, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent. and Captain Dorman. Two of the stewardesses are known to have survived – Miss Axton and Miss Low. The fate of the other two-Miss Saddler and Miss Manning-is not yet known. Later, a Department Trade team went to the scene.

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