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United in grief after Munich plane crash.

Byline: JOHN AVISON

SEVEN Manchester United footballers were among 21 dead after an air crash in Munich on this day in 1958. The British European Airways (BEA) plane caught fire shortly after take-off with 38 passengers and six crew on board.

The disaster robbed the footballing world of some of its most talented young players, known as the Busby Babes. Their average age was 24 and they included captain Roger Byrne, Mark Jones, Eddie Colman, Tommy Taylor, Liam Whelan, David Pegg and Geoff Bent.

Eight British sports journalists and several club officials were also killed. The Queen said she was 'deeply shocked' and sent a message of condolence to the Lord Mayor of Manchester and Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation. Messages of sympathy poured in from around the world and clubs across the UK and Europe held two minutes' silence at the games on the Saturday following the accident.

Red Star Belgrade, the team the Manchester United side had beaten before the crash, suggested they be made honorary champions in the 1958 European Cup.

The chartered aircraft was bringing the Manchester United entourage back from the European Cup match in Yugoslavia and had stopped at Munich's Riem Airport to refuel.

On the third attempt to take off the plane over-shot the runway, hit a house with its port wing, veered to the right, hit another building and burst into flames.

The fuselage did not catch fire and several crew and passengers went back into the wreckage to rescue the injured. Team manager Matt Busby was described as being the most seriously hurt and was given blood transfusions in hospital. Star striker Bobby Charlton was treated for slight head injuries.

According to the chief executive of BEA, A H Milward, there was a heavy snowstorm in Munich and the pilot delayed departure because he was dissatisfied with one of the plane's engines.

The same plane - called Lord Burghley - took the Manchester United entourage out to Belgrade the previous Monday. Another player, Duncan Edwards, died in hospital 15 days later.

Manchester United battled to complete the season and reached the 1958 FA Cup final where they were beaten by Bolton Wanderers.

A decade later Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup.

An investigation into the crash initially suggested pilot error, saying Capt James Thain had taken off without de-icing the wings.

He was later cleared when it was found that the build-up of slush on the runway had prevented the plane taking off. New safety limits were subsequently introduced.

. WAR criminal and former Gestapo commandant Klaus Barbie arrived in France this day in 1983 to stand trial for crimes committed 40 years earlier. The 69-year-old, known as the Butcher of Lyon, was believed to be behind the deaths of more than 4,000 Jews, many of them children, between 1942 and 1944 when he was Gestapo chief in Lyon. He fled France at the end of World War II and had been in exile in Bolivia for the previous 26 years from where he was extradited.

Barbie, who changed his name to Klaus Altmann when he arrived in South America, was also accused of sending more than 7,500 people to their deaths during his time in Lyon.

In 1935 he joined a special branch of the SS and after serving the German army in the Netherlands he was made chief of Gestapo Department IV in Lyon from 1942 to 1944.

On arrival in Lyon in 1942 Klaus Barbie was given two tasks - to dismantle the Resistance and rid the city of Jews. The French had already condemned Klaus Barbie to death 'in absentia' on two occasions for war crimes - once in 1952 and again in 1954.

The death penalty in France was abolished in 1981 so the maximum sentence he was facing in 1983 was life imprisonment.

It had emerged that the Americans shielded Barbie at the end of the war in return for information about the Soviets. He was able to flee to South America with temporary travel documents provided by the CIA.

Barbie was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of 341 separate crimes against humanity. He died in prison in Lyon on September 25, 1991.

CAPTION(S):

* ON TRIAL: Klaus Barbie in a French court in 1983. * DISASTER: Seven Manchester United players died when their home-bound plane crashed on take-off at Munich in 1958.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 6, 2010
Words:734
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