2014 - Return to Douala
Since researching the terrible accident that befell G-ARUD in the early days of Caledonian’s operation for the website and later the book, The History of British Caledonian, Douala has cropped up in numerous places.
The accident at Douala naturally features in the Interview with Sir Adam, and earlier this year I had an email from a lady in South Africa who was trying to find out about it; her grand-parents were on board. I sent copies of all I had of course to help her search. Another chap in South Africa has written a synopsis of the accident, in no small part based on the web page we did a few years back.
At times it almost seems like Douala is whispering “don’t forget I'm here” as it comes up so regularly but always from out of the blue.
It has been many years since the site was visited, some 33 years at the time of writing this. On BCal's resumption of services to the Cameroon; Thomson instructed that the memorial be refurbished. This was back in 1981.
Following the events of 1988 it became unclear what would have happened to the memorial for the 111 passengers and crew of flight CA153, and I could find no further reference to it. The report I did into the accident a few years back (link below) stopped short of finding the memorial, thus with somewhat limited information, and the internet, the search was on to find the memorial and complete the story.
Where to start
Africa is a big place, but thankfully there was a start place, Douala. I have never been there and with the current health / Ebola issues in West Africa it is not on the travel list of many people. So a paper chase was needed, coupled with the internet and relying on the web's good side.
A clipping from the London Times, March 1962, stated that the 111 passengers and crew were laid to rest in a communal grave that measured 150ft long. This is not a small grave and later a memorial stone was placed there.
Initially I started looking at photos of church cemetary's in Douala......there are quite a few and over the years more and more photos have gone online. One initial lead led me to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, they have a site in Douala they tend. They were very helpful, sent photos, but none resembled the photo I had of the memorial in the archive.
To the right, is the only photo I have in the archive of the memorial stone.
This image has not been altered or made worse, so you can see it was not the lead it could have been. But it does show a tall obelisk like structure so all was not lost.
Armed with the memorial image,