Bradford in Blue Plaques: Barbara Jane Harrison

April 22, 2016 Bradford Civic Society

Bradford in Blue Plaques: Barbara Jane Harrison

Barbara Jane Harrison  

Nominated by Ruth Frost, Trustee of Bradford Civic Society 

“Barbara Jane Harrison – Jane to her friends and family – was born at the family home on Kingsdale Crescent, just off Bolton Road.

“Jane was living a jet set and enviable life that she had worked hard to attain – a steward for the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), she was travelling the world in a time where air travel was still seen as very glamorous. On 8 April 1968, she was aboard a flight bound for Australia. Tragically, shortly after take off, the number 2 engine broke away and the pilot was forced to return to Heathrow to make an emergency landing.

“Helped by Jane and other crew members, 121 of the 126 people on board managed to escape. Many recall seeing Jane in a doorway of the plane as they were on the tarmac. Although surrounded by smoke and flames, she turned back towards the seats where 4 passengers were trapped and was not seen alive again.

“Aged just 22, Jane was posthumously awarded the George Cross – the only woman to be awarded the medal for gallantry in peacetime, and the youngest of only four women to receive the heroism award.  

“From the citation for Jane Harrison’s George Cross:

“With flames and explosions all around her and escape impossible… she remained at her post. Miss Harrison was a very brave young lady who gave her life in utter devotion to her duty”

“When we were first discussing possible names for new Bradford Blue Plaques and I got to know Jane’s story, I was instantly struck by it. I’m sure most people hearing it for the first time are. It’s unimaginable and reads like a film script. Not nearly enough Bradfordians are aware of the hero – in the truest sense – that came from BD2.

“As part of the Blue Plaque process I got to know Jane’s sister Sue, she was so touched and appreciative that their hometown of Bradford has dedicated a Blue Plaque in her sister’s memory.”