Remembering the crew of a Wellington bomber that crashed in Sussex
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The bomber came down in Ashdown Forest in July 1941, killing all of her six-man crew.
This year, as they have done for decades, local people walked down to the Airmen’s Grave Memorial to mark Remembrance Sunday and pay special respects to the crew.
The memorial, which, is not actually a grave was originally marked with a simple wooden cross place by the mother of one of the airmen. Today the permanent memorial is an important part of Ashdown Forest’s cultural and historical significance.
Ashdown Forest’s Countryside Manager Ash Walmsley attended the simple service. He said: “It is always a very poignant and moving occasion. The average age of the crew was just 23, so it really brings home the sacrifice that they and so many other servicemen and women have made in several conflicts. It is an honour to remember the airmen and it’s wonderful to see so many people here marking Remembrance Sunday with us on the Forest.”
The Wellington Bomber came down on the last day of July 1941 as it was returning from a raid on Cologne. Mystery surrounds the plane’s final hours as there is uncertainty about whether its mission was successful or not. The crash was attributed by the squadron wing commander to “very poor weather and a faulty port engine”. The official report for the incident concludes that “The Wellington hit the ground at a slight angle and caught fire”. What is certain is that the crew were a long way from their base at Binbrook in Lincolnshire.
Ash added: “Today was a day for us all to focus on a tragic event in the tranquillity of the Forest – and remember the sacrifices that were made to ensure we have the freedom to enjoy it today. I’d like to thank everyone who attended the service today and helped make this a special day for Ashdown Forest.”