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Memorial to Second World War airmen unveiled at Norfolk ceremony

PUBLISHED: 09:46 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:46 03 September 2018

The wreaths and plaque. Pictures: supplied by Des Cook

The wreaths and plaque. Pictures: supplied by Des Cook

Archant

Relatives of four airmen who died when their plane crashed during the Second World War attended the unveiling of a plaque in their memory.

Flight Lieutenant John Frutiger, Sergeant Robert Chanin, Sergeant John Hill and Flight Sergeant Robert Gapp, all of 61 Squadron, were in their early twenties when they set off from RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire on a mission to Wilhelmshaven.

On their return, their Handley Page Hampden crashed at Bluestone Plantation, near Cawston, on February 10, 1941, while attempting an emergency landing. Sgt Chanin died on his 21st birthday.

The unveiling of the plaque on the memorial on Sunday, September 2 and laying of wreaths followed a service in St Agnes’ Church, Cawston.

The service and ceremony were attended by a large number of Cawston residents, along with representatives of the Royal British Legion and relatives of the airmen. A bugler played the Last Post and there was a fly-past by a Tiger Moth aircraft.

Des Cook, of Cawston Historical Society, said, “We were particularly delighted to welcome several of the airmen’s family members, from Norfolk, Devon, Hertfordshire and Humberside.”

The society’s David Steward said the decision to honour the airmen with the plaque originated when they were putting together a DVD of the history of the village.

He said: “One person recalled this incident, and it seemed the appropriate time to do something.”

Mr Cook said the son of the policeman in the village at the time told the group about it.

“He must have been only 10 or 11 at the time,” he said. “His name was Bill Sampson but I cannot remember his father’s name.”

The memorial already has a plaque on it in honour of the crew of the aircraft, Lucky Strike, which was flying back from a raid on submarine pens at Kiel in January 1944, when it crashed at Church Farm, Cawston with the loss of two of the crew.

The Handley Page Hampden was a twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force (RAF) that was used in the early stages of the war.

Cawston Historical Society maintains the Cawston Heritage website, www.cawstonheritage.co.uk

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