Mr. Ivan Sneezum lead the plaque dedication ceremony in remembrance of the men of the Royal Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Regiments, and other service men and women who suffered greatly in the Far East during and after the 1939-45 war
In a ceremony held at St. Mark's Church Ten Mile Bank two local men who died in active service for the British Army were remembered and their names added to the parish war memorial.
The plaque commemorates the memories of Mr. Maurice Bell, who was killed 1952 on service during the Korean War and Mr. Kenneth Rose who was killed in Malaysia in 1949 where British Troops were fighting Communist guerillas.
A MEMORIAL TO THE AIRCREW WHO DIED WHEN THEIR AIRCRAFT CRASHED IN THE PARISH OF HILGAY
Seven aircraft crashed in Hilgay during the 2nd WW. The crews of 3 survived, the names of the crews of the other 4 are to be inscribed on a memorial adjacent to the Village War Memorial. Both RAF Marham and the USAF from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall will be supporting the ceremony
Research by M. H. Forster, Honorary Secretary
MASTER N 8043
WELLINGTON II W 5448 HA-Z
B 17 G 44-6818
728 Sqdn 452 BG
|The service was held to Unveil and Dedicate a Memorial to Those Who Served and Died when their Aircraft crashed in the Parish of Hilgay 1939-1945
Hymns and Prayers
The Rev'd (Wg Cdr) Lance Clark dedicated the plaque
Then the names of those who are commemorated on the Memorial were read by:
Wreaths were laid by:
|The Dedication of the Royal Airforces Association Recited by Mr. Peter Kingston
In friendship and service on to another,
The Last Post
The Kohima Epitaph Recited by Mr. Horace Cross, Chairman of the Downham Branch of the Royal British Legion
When you go home, tell them of us and say,
Mr. Brian Charlesworth recited a poem which was written by Mr. Charles O'Reilly, the only living survivor of the B17 who unfortunately was not fit enough to travel from the United States
This poem was written by Charles O’ Reilly, one of three, who escaped by parachute from the Flying Fortress (B17) and the only one still alive today.
For my crew - England 1945
Drawn from desperate sleeps our crews awoke.
Shivery - fingered, we lit cold cigarettes,
Which glowed bright points to reassure
Of others’ presence, near, though phantoms seemed.
Talk was low in whispered nothings, not wanting
To remember yesterday, and the day before,
And the days before -
Of the once - live flesh that fell
In streaming lines of iridescent light.
Each day we lifted into the black -
Into that English blackness deeply cold,
Into those pre - dawn skies,
Where soon, miles high in opening light,
Long vapour trails pointed those skies
And where we were.
And then a shattering of steel
Sent points of light
Through the darkened bombers’ spaces,
And flak rang our ears with pain.
Down on blood - wet spent - shells
The gunners sprawled.
Fingers tore at useless masks,
Which etched deep lines, and they
Gasped for oxygen’s life - giving breath,
Denied, by several lines left dangling.
With shrill staccato beats
The flak formed in ugly puffs of smoke;
And tiny planes bit deep like wasps.
They made the skies appear like that
when once in rage
Fell streams of angels through the days and nights,
Engulfed in fire until the air was clean again.
God seemed far from skies as those
When shattered parts and planes and crews
Enclosed by fire and soaked in burning oil,
Fell, until the earth reached up in mercy
To claim those of us who dared
Trespass those sacred realms of sky.
© Downham Branch Royal British Legion
Charles writes: I wish to thank you for the information and invitation for me to come to the memorial for the Aircrews who died in the Parish of Hilgay. Illness will keep me from making the trip, I send a memorial poem which I wrote many years ago, you may do with it what you wish. Best of Luck I wish I could be with you on 18th May
During the 2nd World War there were 37 Airfields in Norfolk and over 50 in Lincolnshire. Throughout these six years, over flying of this area was part of daily life.
Unfortunately accidents occurred and many brave airmen lost their lives. Here in Hilgay 7 aircraft crashed resulting in the loss of, (to the best of our knowledge some 57 years later) 14 lives.
Some 18 months ago it was suggested that a memorial plaque was made, listing the names of those who lost their lives. At the time it was known that one aircraft had crashed with the loss of all the crew. On further investigation it transpired that 7 aircraft had crashed in the Parish, the crews of 3 aircraft survived as did 3 members of the crew of the B17. The 4 other crashes resulted in the death of 14 airmen. Plans were then made to unveil a memorial plaque on 18th May 2002 being the 61st anniversary of the crash of the Wellington.
All these men answered the call, coming from different lands, America, Canada and England. One is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves plot in the Churchyard of St Matthew's Sutton Bridge, Two in the Commonwealth War Graves plot in the Marham Churchyard and the 6 crew from the B17 were buried at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery. All the others were buried in their home Towns / Villages.
The memorial was unveiled in Honour and Gratitude to remind us and future generations of the sacrifice made by these men attempting with thousands of others to preserve / regain the Freedom and Peace we in this Country enjoy today. It is also an important Chapter in Hilgay Village History