British High Commission remembers those who died in 1946 air crash near Banjul

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

On Saturday 7 September 2019, the British High Commission, held a ceremony at the Jeshwang cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives in the 1946 air crash near Banjul.

On 7th September 1946 at shortly after 0400, a British South American Airways flight took off from Banjul (then Bathurst) en route to Buenos Aires via Natal, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. Tragically the flight crashed soon after take-off, killing all 24 passengers and crew on board.

All were buried in the European Cemetery near Banjul until, in 1996, former President Jammeh decided to use the location to erect Arch 22 and the graves were moved in haste, under the supervision of armed soldiers, to the Jeshwang Cemetery. The fate of the graves was unknown to families in the UK, New Zealand and elsewhere overseas until recently.

Following an enquiry from the daughter of one of those who died, the High Commission managed to connect with the families of some of those on board the flight, and by holding the ceremony hoped to be able to provide comfort on this sad anniversary.

 In a short address, The High Commissioner, Sharon Wardle, spoke of the impact of the loss on the families and the importance of preserving the memory of those whose final resting place is here in The Gambia. She praised the support received from the National Centre for Arts and Culture in piecing together what happened and explaining the circumstances behind the move of the graves.  The High Commission will be working with NCAC to erect a memorial plaque at the National Museum to continue to honour all the departed souls.

Those present laid wreaths and flowers at the grave in memory of all the victims, and words of condolence were kindly expressed by the Reverend James Cole and Imam Ebrima Njie.