True Neighbours…

True Neighbours…

The Bristol Evening Post 10th April 1974 – From Malcolm Smith BASLE,

The people of this part of the borderland of the Swiss nation gave the world a lesson on the meaning of a true neighbour John R. Wraight, British Ambassador. 

Thursday Flags still fly at half-mast at the airport here as British visitors head for home after attending the air disaster memorial service. They leave behind on the side of the Jura Ridge, 10 miles from the airport, the wreaths and posies which bear the names 108 loved ones who perished a year ago. The wonderful people of nearby Herrenmatt and Hochwald have already taken those flowers from their wrappings and arranged them individually in vases to make sure they bloom through Easter. 

A party of more than 150 from Somerset and Bristol 20 of them survivors attended yesterday’s unveiling of a memorial tablet and a symbolic sculpture. The Swiss and British Governments, the people of the Canton of Solothurn and the Mendip communities contributed towards them. 


The thanks of the British people of this area was voiced by Mr. Barney Lovell, chairman of the Axbridge Co-ordination Centre. He referred to the £60,000 contributed by the Swiss people to an education fund for the motherless children. He said many bonds of friendship had been forged between British and Swiss families and there was a’ possibility now of permanent ties between the communities involved. The Vicar of Cheddar, the Rev. Ronald Denman and the Rector of Arbridge, the Nev. Anthony Martin, led prayers as Swiss and British national flags and those of the Canton hung in the warm spring air. 

Across the valley drifted the voices of Hochwald mixed choir and music from the wind ensemble of Basel Orchestra. Symphony 


Federal Councillor Willy Ritschard, one of the seven leading members of the Swiss Government, attended with other local officials headed by Herr Landammann, Dr. Hans Erzer, President The Government of the Catton of Solsthurn, He Said his countrymen had always seen the British a happy and conscientious working people who by their unique way of looking at things had always been able to get through difficult times. 

The countryside was in deep winter sleep as the British party heading for Basel with such high hopes of happy fulfilling day. But it was suddenly winter sleep wakened to reality of tragedy enacted by a modern “big bird. And he quoted Shakespeare, who through Hamlet said: ‘There’s a special providence – the fall of sparrow. “If it be not now to come, yet  it will come; the readiness all.’ 

Herr Landammans said the story of the Good Samaritan lived on as was shown when the people of the Swiss and British communities living locally answered the disaster call and helped. This moment of history, the sorrow and hope for the future, were forever captured in the monument of modest stone” with its bronze sculpture. It depicted the fallen wing that was man’s frailty and the other raised in the hope and promise brighter future. 

The British Ambassador Mr. John B. Wraight, said the call for help was answered by the Swiss ceaseless vigour “Our gratitude goes out  to every one them.  To all those who worked unceasingly in the appalling weather conditions to care for the inured.” for the efficiency, the selfless and the devotion with which this help was given was absolutely magnificent.” he said. Mr. Wraight said the British had a saying “A friend in need indeed is a friend indeed. There was no greater example of the need being answered. But he reminded everyone: “Life must go on.” The party, in two coaches visiting Basel from Axbridge and accompanied by Mrs. Margaret Tucker, were today calling on hospitals where they were treated or making a trip into the countryside.

They are due back on Saturday night. Other Relatives who travelled to Basel by car train and air were returning home today, including the clergymen who took part in the service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *