"There's 21 killed. Seems Bobby's got out more or less OK, but Tommy Taylor's dead, so is Whelan, Jones, Colman, Pegg, Bent and Roger Byrne the skipper."
Evening Chronicle front page 6 February 1958
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumEvening Chronicle front page 6 February 1958 - Credit: Newcastle Chronicle & Journal

In common with the nationals, Newcastle's Evening Chronicle was trying to keep up with the story. Its sister paper The Journal had the advantage of a few hours, and it was soon able to add more facts into the story, and managed to secure an exclusive telephone interview with the young local hero, Bobby Charlton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Newcastle Journal Friday 7 February 1958

(reproduced by permission) 

SOCCER PLANE: 21 DIE

Seven are Manchester United players

CRASH AFTER TAKE-OFF

SEVEN OF MANCHESTER UNITED’S SOCCER STARS DIED YESTERDAY WHEN THEIR PLANE CRASHED AFTER TAKING OFF FROM RIEM AIRFIELD, MUNICH.

Altogether 21 people, including some of Britain’s top sporting journalists, perished in the disaster.

There are 23 survivors, but many of them are seriously injured.

CAPTAIN AMONG DEAD

            Heading the list of dead was United’s captain and English international left-back Roger Byrne.

            Others killed were Mark Jones (centre-half), Bill Whelan (Eire international and inside-right), Tom Curry (United’s trainer and former Newcastle and Stockport County player), Eddie Colman (right-half), Bert Whalley (the club coach), Tommy Taylor (United and England centre-forward), David Pegg (outside-left and an English international), Geoff Bent (left-back), and Walter Crickman (club secretary since 1926).

            Frank Swift, the former England goalkeeper turned journalist, died in hospital after an operation. He had a fractured skull.

LOCAL SURVIVORS

            Team manager Matt Busby, also in hospital, was said by doctors to have little chance of survival.

            Among the survivors were Ashington-born Bobby Charlton, inside-right, and Ray Wood, reserve goalkeeper, who comes from Hebburn.

            Another who escaped was Margaret Bellis, 37-year-old stewardess, from Darlington, and formerly of Whitley Bay.

            The plane – a specially chartered B.E.A. Elizabethan – was bringing the players home after Wednesday’s drawn game against Jugoslavia’s Red Star in Belgrade.

            It had landed at Munich to refuel.

THIRD ATTEMPT

            Players and journalists were joking in the airport waiting-room while the air liner was refuelled before its final “hop” to Manchester.

            Snow was falling as the plane taxied out at 2.45 p.m. It returned.

            Twenty minutes later it went out again. There was another delay.

            Then, at the third attempt to take off, onlookers heard its engines rev-up, saw it start forward.

ENGINE CAUGHT FIRE

            Their looks turned to horror as one of the two engines appeared to catch fire immediately after the plane had left the ground.

            It lost height and ploughed into a two-storey house about 300 yards from the edge of the airfield.

            The tail of the plane broke off and burning debris was scattered for about 500 yards around, setting several other houses on fire.

            The plane was burned out in the centre section, but the pilot’s cockpit seemed to be little damaged.

            The captain of the plane was able to scramble free of the wreckage and help in the rescue work before he allowed himself to be taken to hospital.

            The B.E.A. issued in London last night the following statement made in Munich by Mr. Anthony Millward, chief executive officer of B.E.A., who had flown out with other officials to the scene of the disaster:

            “We are not certain that the aircraft became air-borne but we do know that it overshot the runway and hit a house 300 yards from the end of the runway with its port wing. It then veered to the right, hit a hut and burst into flames.”

           

 

 

From The Newcastle Journal Friday 7 February 1958

 (reproduced by permission)

ASHINGTON PLAYER TELLS IN 2am PHONE CALL OF CRASH ORDEAL

 

Bobby Charlton: ‘I woke to see plane ablaze’

FLUNG OUT 40 YARDS AWAY – ‘BUT I’M ALL RIGHT NOW’

In a telephone talk at 2a.m. today Manchester United’s inside-right Bobby Charlton, of Ashington, described his ordeal in the crash.

            “The trouble was we did not get off the ground. We taxied, then left the runway, crashed through a fence and hit a house,” he told a Reuter correspondent. “The next thing I knew was when I woke up and found myself about 40 yards from the plane, which was blazing violently.”

            “I had a cut on the head but was otherwise all right. I was a bit scared, though.”

            He was able to walk, and was one of the first three survivors to get to hospital.

            The others were Harry Gregg and Bill Foulkes.

            They all helped to get the manager, Matt Busby, into an ambulance.

Worries end

A telegram from Bobby to Ashington Police last night ended hours of worry for his mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Charlton.

            Her heart sank when she opened the door to a local policeman – but he smiled as he handed over the telegram from Bobby which said: “I am fit and well. See you all soon.”

            The telegram ended what Mrs. Charlton described as “The worst day of my life.”

            She first heard of the crash as she was doing housework at her home in Beatrice Street, Ashington.

            A neighbour called. “As soon as I saw his deathly white face I said ‘Bobby – the plane’ and he nodded,” she said last night.

            “I did not dare listen to the radio.”

            “It’s a tremendous relief – but those other poor lads,” she said sadly.

            Also waiting anxiously for news were his younger brothers, Tommy aged 11, and 15-year-old Gordon, a pupil at Bellingham Camp School.

            Bobby, who completes National Service in May, is a second cousin of Jackie Milburn.

            He was capped for the England schoolboys’ team at 15 and was signed by Manchester United when he left Bedlington Grammar School.

Bobby Charlton and Ray Wood in hospital
GNU Free Documentation LicenseBobby Charlton and Ray Wood in hospital - Credit: Newcastle Chronicle & Journal