This piece is dedicated to all those who both perished and survived the Munich Air disaster which took place 50 years ago today.
Facts on the Tragedy:
At 1504 local time (1404GMT) on Wednesday, 5th February, 1958 exactly 50 years ago today, BEA Elizabethan airliner G-ALZU crashed in heavy snow trying to take off from Munich airport, and 23 people in the disaster lost their lives
There were eight Manchester United first-team players, plus 15 back-room staff and journalists who perished in the Munich disaster
Manchester United players who were killed in the tragedy
Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards (survived the crash but died in hospital 15 days later), Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, Liam ‘Billy’ Whelan
Others who perished:
Tom Curry â€“ Trainer who played for Newcastle United from 1919 – 1929. Tom played as a half-back, making 221 appearances for Newcastle in the 1920s, and scoring 5 goals.
Walter Crickmer – Club Secretary, Bert Whalley – Chief Coach, Alf Clarke – journalist, Manchester Evening Chronicle, Don Davies – journalist, Manchester Guardian, George Follows – journalist, Daily Herald, Tom Jackson – journalist, Manchester Evening News, Archie Ledbrooke – journalist, Daily Mirror, Henry Rose – journalist, Daily Express, Eric Thompson – journalist, Daily Mail, Frank Swift – journalist, News of the World (also former England and Manchester City goalkeeper), Captain Kenneth “Ken” Rayment – British co-pilot who survived the crash but suffered multiple injuries and died three weeks later as a result of brain damage. He was one of two people who died in hospital after being injured in the crash. Bela Miklos – travel agent, Willie Satinoff – supporter, racecourse owner and close friend of Matt Busby, Tom Cable â€“ steward
Survivors -Manchester United players now deceased
Johnny Berry (died in 1994), Jackie Blanchflower (died in 1998), Dennis Viollet , died in 1999), Ray Wood (died in 2002)
Survivors – Manchester United players still alive
Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Harry Gregg, Kenny Morgans, Albert Scanlon (who went on to play left wing for Newcastle United)
Other survivors now deceased
Matt Busby – team manager (died in 1994), Frank Taylor – journalist (died in 2002), James Thain – captain (died in 1975), George (Bill) Rodgers – radio officer (death date unknown), Peter Howard – photographer (died in 1996), Margaret Bellis – stewardess (died in 1990s)
Other survivors still alive:
Ted Ellyard â€“ photographer, Vera LukiÄ‡ and baby daughter Venona – passengers saved by Manchester United player Harry Gregg. In addition, at the time of the accident, Vera LukiÄ‡ was pregnant with her later-born son Zoran, Mrs Miklos – wife of Bela Miklos, the travel agent that arranged trip and died in the crash, Nebojsa Bato TomaÅ¡eviÄ‡ – passenger
Bobby Charlton would later say that Duncan Edwards was the only player he ever played with, who made him feel inferior. Duncan had already played 151 times for Manchester United with 20 goals and had played 18 times for England with 5 goals. Duncan had only turned 21 years old the previous October.
Bobby Charlton would later write in his autobiography My Manchester United Years about the tragedy:.
“When we landed in Munich the weather was as bad as I had ever seen it,” “By the third attempt at take-off, I was suddenly conscious of the silence inside the plane.”“Outside, the snowy field flew by, but not quickly enough it seemed.â€ “There was an awful noise, the grind of metal on metal. Then there was the void.â€
“When I came to, I was on the ground, outside the wrecked plane, but still strapped into my seat.â€ “I saw the bodies in the snow, though one small and passing mercy was that I didn’t recognize among the dead one of my closest friends, Eddie Colman.â€
“I woke the next morning in a hospital ward and in a nearby bed was a young German, looking at a newspaper.â€ “He was reading about the crash and read out the names and then, after a short pause, said, ‘Dead’.â€
“It was as though my life was being taken away, piece by piece.â€ “Duncan was in obvious pain when I visited him, but his spirit was still as strong as ever,” “I felt my eyes smart while wondering all over again how it could be that this young giant of the game was so stricken while I could prepare to walk down the stairs before packing for home.â€
“There was never an instinct to try to put Munich out of mind.â€ “Munich was just too big, too overpowering, to permit that kind of reaction.â€ “It was something that you knew, right from the start, you had to learn to live with.”