Purcell, Anthony Wymer Vousden (1934-1954)
Sherborne School, UK, Book of Remembrance for former pupils who have lost their lives in the service of their country, 1919-1939 and 1946 to date.
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Credit: Sherborne School Archives, Abbey Road, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, DT9 3AP.
Details: Anthony Wymer Vousden Purcell (1934-1954), born 12 March 1934, son of H.V. Purcell, 20 Clareville Grove, South Kensington, London.
Attended The Dragon School, Oxford.
Attended Sherborne School (The Green), September 1947-July 1952; Upper 6th form; School Prefect; 3rd XV (1950); 1st XV (1951); Athletics Colours (1951, captain 1952); Gym Colours (1951, 1952); Boxing team (1951, colours 1952); PT Instructor with Badge; member of Duffers, Alchemists & Wildman; Sergeant in CCF.
Scholarship in Mathematics to Queen’s College, Oxford.
Acting Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force..
Killed on 6 January 1954 at Tom’s Hill, Aldbury, Hertfordshire (part of the Ashridge Park National Trust Estate near RAF Bovingdon), when their WJ474 twin-engined Vickers Valetta training aircraft of no.2 Air Navigation school Royal Air Force flight crashed in bad weather just after take off from RAF Bovington. The plane was carrying one extra passenger, despite having only 16 passenger seats. All the passengers on the flight, except for the pilot, had just played a Rugby match at RAF Halton. The Valetta took off at 17:16 with a visibility of 1200 yards in snow. The aircraft crashed onto a wooded slope when both engines were torn off. The fuselage continued for another 100 yards with a debris trail of wreckage and bodies. Pathe film footage of the crash site: www.britishpathe.com/video/16-die-in-r-a-f-crash
Buried at Halton churchyard, Buckinghamshire.
A wooden cross with a plaque was placed at the crash site on 6 January 2014.
Sherborne School Book of Remembrance.
The Shirburnian, Lent 1954:
A.M.V. PURCELL. Anthony Purcell (c, 1947-52) was killed, together with other members of his Station Rugby XV, when their aircraft crashed in a fog early in January. Purcell came to Sherborne as an Exhibitioner from The Dragon School, Oxford, in September 1947. Very shy and lacking in self-confidence, he did not find life at a Public School easy in his early days here and was slow to develop. Those who knew him best, however, came to realise that beneath the diffident exterior there was a quiet determination, and in the end his determination, allied with ability above the average, brought him much success and enabled him to make a real mark on the School. He won a Jodrell Scholarship at The Queen’s College, Oxford, was a School Prefect, a member of the XV and of the Gym Squad, and Captain of Athletics. Nor were his interests confined to the subjects of his choice in work or games: he took a keen interest in both Art and Music. Behind his quiet nature lay a real affection for his School, his House and his friends, all of whom will feel a sense of loss, and of sympathy for his parents at the early death of one for whom a bright future seemed assured.