On Wednesday August 9th 1961 a Cunard Eagle Airways Vickers Viking with three crew members, code named Papa Mike, carrying 34 teenage school boys and two masters from Lanfranc Secondary Modern School in Croydon, crashed just below the summit of Holtaheia, a mountain, near Stavanger in Norway. All 38 men and one woman were killed instantly. It was the worst accident of its kind to have occurred since the war, and at that time, Norway’s worst aviation disaster. Members of the Norwegian Red Cross brought the bodies of the victims down from the mountain top for repatriation.

The whole of Croydon was in shock because almost everyone knew of someone involved in the tragedy. The town went into mourning. News of the disaster was syndicated around the world and was important news for quite a long time – especially, of course, in Croydon and Stavanger. Months later the conclusion of the Norwegian Air Accident Enquiry was that no one thing was to blame for the crash. Nothing could be learnt from the mysterious accident, so everyone had died needlessly. They were wasted lives.

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