Munich Air Disaster – A Tribute and Facts

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 – 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 – 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 – photographer, Vera Lukić and baby daughter Venona – passengers saved by Manchester United player Harry Gregg. In addition, at the time of the accident, Vera Lukić 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¡ević – 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.” “There was an awful noise, the grind of metal on metal. Then there was the void.”

“When I came to, I was on the ground, outside the wrecked plane, but still strapped into my seat.” “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.”

“I woke the next morning in a hospital ward and in a nearby bed was a young German, looking at a newspaper.” “He was reading about the crash and read out the names and then, after a short pause, said, ‘Dead’.”

“It was as though my life was being taken away, piece by piece.” “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.”

“There was never an instinct to try to put Munich out of mind.” “Munich was just too big, too overpowering, to permit that kind of reaction.” “It was something that you knew, right from the start, you had to learn to live with.”

25 comments so far

  • Leo*

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:05 PM

    Comment #1

    its a horrific thing to happen, and the manchester team of today is a great tribute to what those players achieved

  • James

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:45 PM

    Comment #2

    as much as we all dislike man utd I’m sure you’ll all agree that anyone who boos or makes comments during the minutes silence is scum

    respect should be given no matter who we support

  • ruff ryders

    Feb 6, 2008 at 2:46 PM

    Comment #3

    who gives 2 f**s wot appened

  • Dragoner

    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:08 PM

    Comment #4

    not being funny ed, but your never gonna get much comments with an article like this, firstly this has been in the news for god knows how long and i guess a lot of people are quite frankly sick of being depressed by it (i mean that with no offence), and two, us fans aren’t exactly the most up beat right now and i personally feel a more positive article should be put up.


    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:10 PM

    Comment #5

    absolutely, the families of the unfortunately gone deserve a quiet minit and we should all pay them tribut.

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:46 PM

    Comment #6

    whens the minutes silence? ill honour it because so many died; but it fks me off how publicized and in your face it is constantly, about 2 or 3 weeks before the event! Im sure the families do not want to be reminded that much!

  • James

    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:47 PM

    Comment #7

    minutes silence at the england game tonight and again at old trafford at the weekend.

    they are even talking about trying to get all teams to do it this weekend

  • the artist formerly known as cooldj

    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:48 PM

    Comment #8


    Did you know Duncan Edwards Dad?

    Did you know Duncan Edwards Dad, I mean really really know?
    It’s just you’ve kept so many cuttings from all those years ago.
    And were the babes the greatest, the greatest ever team?
    Or just enshrined here in this history, just a bygone boyhood dream.
    Now I know you idolised them Dad, you gave each one their own page,
    the pictures are well faded now, but I suppose that comes with age.

    Dad, did Tommy Taylor really head a ball against the bar,
    which Harry Gregg collected, it had rebounded back so far?
    And was Duncan Edwards really, the greatest of them all,
    with silken skills and feathery touch, thirteen stone and six foot tall?
    Now there’s a contradiction surely Dad, but I’m going to let it pass,
    but Billy Whelan must have played once, without first going to Mass.
    And was Harry Gregg a goalkeeper supreme?
    Were Eddie Coleman’s hazy runs like red blurs on swards of green?
    And Dad can you explain to me how it ever came to pass,
    that Roger Byrne, just five foot nine, covered every blade of glass?
    Or how David Pegg whose swerving runs, like a scorpion you said,
    always struck the ball with venom, yet left no one for dead?
    Or how it was that big Mark Jones could soar into the sky,
    yet still patrol his area, so that nobody got by?

    Then there’s the team of Sixty Eight, and Dad I’d like to know,
    how George Best was always missing, yet played five hundred games or so?
    And how was it Bobby Charlton, who played so many vital roles,
    could be both a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals?
    Or how Denis Law had chipped a ball from forty yards or more,
    it came back off the crossbar, and yet Law was there to sc ore?
    What use was it that Pat Crerand could split defences with one pass,
    when the ball only ever landed on a sixpence on the grass?
    And was Stepney’s save at Wembley, the best you’ve ever seen,
    or was it just that it resulted in the fulfilment of a dream?
    So now to Matt Busby, or Sir Matt as he’s now known,
    from a mining town in Scotland, yet still one of our own?
    Then finally there’s the Munich clock, the disaster time still shown.
    why do people say that they never intended coming home?

    The boy looked up with pleading eyes, and his father gently said.
    There’s a lifetime of old memories in the scrapbook you’ve just read.
    And of course there is some fiction, most fact, some strange yet true,
    that’s what makes players into legends, now I’ve passed them on to you.
    Those pictures may be faded son, but I can see them all so clear,
    as if it were just yesterday, and I hold each memory dear.
    Now I’ve passed this scrapbook on to you, to treasure for all time,
    And you too will find your heroes and build to them a shrine,
    and you’ll add your bits of fiction, but don’t worry son that’s fine,
    to make legends of your heroes and then place them alongside mine.
    And you’ll understand in years to come, as you watch great United teams,
    why it is we call Old Trafford, The Theatre of Dreams

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 3:58 PM

    Comment #9

    Ok i can just about do silence before the england game but during it i will be laughing at those pathetic overpaid mongrels that play for england when they are getting beaten by the swiss rolls.

  • the artist formerly known as cooldj

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:06 PM

    Comment #10

    ah zeTom1 it is you…

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:07 PM

    Comment #11

    tit tis 🙂

    Ed, wheres Muncih

  • Punk Skunk

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    Comment #12

    Muncih?..Isn’t that what mancs call a monkey?..

  • the artist formerly known as cooldj

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:18 PM

    Comment #13

    now it mucih

  • Geordie Joe

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:23 PM

    Comment #14

    Ok minute silance at england game and at old trafford. But all teams shouldn’t do it at the weekend that is just too far.

  • ToonKing

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:25 PM

    Comment #15

    it may just me being an insensitive sick bastard, but i wish the Manure plane goes down when they are flying up to St James in a few weeks time.

    PS: sorry 😀

  • Graham

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:29 PM

    Comment #16

    Time to be a bit controversial so I appologise if I offend anyone.

    Yes it was a tragedy and yes they were a great football team – but for gods sake it was 50 years ago! It should be a personal thing for friends, family and those Man Utd supporters who were around at the time. Theres no need to ram it fown the necks of all and sundry.

    I wonder if the 96 people killed at Hillsbrough will be rememberd in the same way 50 years on – they werent players but they were human. And if there’s a minute silence for those Liverpool fans will the Man Utd fans honour it?

    Or whether the Motherwell captain who died on the pitch a few weeks ago will still be given the time of day on his anniversary?

    If this was Newcastle or Middlesbrough or any other club – the national press and media wouldn’t give a toss about the 50th anniversary – but this is Man Utd. and the Munich disaster partly helped in making Man Utd what it is today – even Man Utd fans agree with that.

    I am not anti Man Utd – i respect them for what they have achieved. But true national respect is due to War veterens killed in action and the like.

    I for one won’t be honouring the minutes silence tonight – I won’t even be watching the game. I’d rather see Newcastle win a corner than England bring home the world cup!

  • Graham

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:31 PM

    Comment #17

    Geordie Joe – dont tell me thats what they are doing?

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:31 PM

    Comment #18

    We may aswell hype up and remember the deaths of Marc Vivian Foe, Miklos Feher, Anotonio Puerta and many others on the day when they died!

  • Tom_Toon

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:34 PM

    Comment #19

    Lets go all out and have a minutes silence for every 100 people who die in the world, no1 would speak at all!

  • Graham

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:46 PM

    Comment #20

    Ed – you forgot to mention that Tom Curry who died in the crash played for NUFC for 10 years from 1919-1929. Surely for a NUFC site we should be remembering him most?

  • Ed Harrison

    Feb 6, 2008 at 4:59 PM

    Comment #21

    Graham – I wasn’t aware of that – but I’ve updated the piece accordingly.

  • UTD111

    Feb 6, 2008 at 6:26 PM

    Comment #22

    Sorry to hear your not anti Manure Graham – I bloody well am!

  • Graham

    Feb 6, 2008 at 6:30 PM

    Comment #23

    Sorry – wrong wording… I am anti Man utd – just respect the way they play the game – cant stand them thinking about it!

  • GP

    Feb 7, 2008 at 4:33 AM

    Comment #24

    Proper rivals of Man Utd laugh at this. Have we fallen so far? Try thinking instead of using your feelings.

  • hanzemre

    Feb 7, 2008 at 8:50 AM

    Comment #25

    RIP to all them deceased … from 50 years ago till this minute.Not for onlyManU ffs.


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