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Gloster Meteor WL 368 Kirkcaldy

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Gloster Meteor MK III single seater, RAF pd via wp
Gloster Meteor MK III
Single seater

Gloster Meteor WL368 was lost with two on board when it crashed two miles north of Kirkcaldy on October 18, 1957.

The cause is believed to have been engine failure, after which the aircraft struck trees between Kirkcaldy High School, then under construction, and Dunnikier House, now a hotel.

The aircraft, a MK VII two-seat trainer, was en route from its departure airfield of RAF West Raynham, Norfolk, to RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh, when it was diverted to RAF Leuchars, Fife, due to deteriorating weather conditions there.

Eyewitnesses said the pilot stayed with his aircraft to prevent it from crashing into a built-up area which included Templehall School (now demolished and the site developed for housing), and turned away from children on the sports field, but suffered the fatal crash as a result.

Memorial plaque

A plaque, arranged by Kirkcaldy Civic Society, was unveiled on Monday, September 8, 2008, to commemorate those who lost their lives in the accident.

The inscription reads:

This plaque is dedicated to the memory of Flt. Lt. Mike Withey and SAC D. McLoughlin who courageously gave their lives, when their aircraft, a Gloster Meteor MK VII, crashed near this site on 18th October 1957. A tribute received at that time from the head of Templehall School reads: "To the grateful memory of Flt. Lt. Michael John Withey whose actions as a pilot immediately before his death saved a school and its pupils from a major disaster".

The plaque was unveiled by Mrs Maureen O’Mara, sister of the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Mike Withey, and the inscription was read by RAF Group Captain Andrew Dipper. Unfortunately, the family of Senior Aircraftman D McLoughlin (from Glasgow) could not be traced.

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