Memorial to heroic RAF crew unveiled

A MEMORIAL to RAF members who lost their lives when their Halifax bomber was shot down during World War Two has been unveiled.

The crew were flying back from Germany when they were shot down by the Luftwaffe.

The wreckage lay at the bottom of a marsh in Holland until the £250,000 needed to rescue it could be raised.

Current crew members were invited to a memorial service last year where the Dutch air force presented them with a propeller from the bomber. They decided to make it into a permanent tribute which also recognised their links with Halifax.

Steve Rand, owner of Rand and Asquith quarry, Rastrick, donated a piece of Halifax stone to form the base of the memorial.

The crew made two trips to Rastrick to choose the stone. On their second trip, they winched the two-ton stone below their Merlin helicopter to return it to their base at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire.

Mr Rand made the trip to Oxfordshire to watch the memorial’s unveiling outside the squadron’s hangar.

Family members of those who died in the bomber also attended. Janice Freeman’s grandfather, wireless operator Joseph Hennessey, was on board.

“It’s been very moving. It’s been a real celebration of the crew and what they did,” she said. “But it was nice that they related it right through history to what 78 Squadron are out doing today in Afghanistan.”

Wing Commander Dan Startup, the current Officer Commanding 78 Squadron, said: “It was an honour for us all to be able to recognise the sacrifices those before us have made.”