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Memorial to bomber crew dedicated

PUBLISHED: 16:59 20 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:05 07 July 2010

The Mundford memorial.

The Mundford memorial.

THE Last Post echoed around a Norfolk church at the weekend as a permanent memorial was dedicated to the crew of a Lancaster bomber that crashed in Thetford Forest more than 60 years ago.

THE Last Post echoed around a Norfolk church at the weekend as a permanent memorial was dedicated to the crew of a Lancaster bomber that crashed in Thetford Forest more than 60 years ago.

It was on March 22, 1945 that the 15 Squadron Lancaster HK773 aircraft lost power and exploded at woods near Mundford shortly

after taking off from RAF Mildenhall for a bombing mission to Germany.

The seven young men who were killed in the crash, just months before the end of the second world war, were remembered on Saturday as a plaque was unveiled at St Leonard's Church, Mundford.

Villagers, veterans, members of the RAF, and the Bishop of Lynn, the Right Rev James Langstaff, gathered for a service to mark the dedication of the memorial for Australian pilot Warrant Officer Frederick Newton, 24, navigator Sgt Cecil Church, 19, wireless operator Sgt George Cope, 21, bomb aimer Sgt Martin Matthews, 22, air gunner Sgt Tom Jenkins, 36, flight engineer Sgt William Dee, 20, and air gunner Sgt Peter Cooley, 20.

The airman were killed instantly after their Lancaster bomber loaded with fuel and a 4,000lb Blockbuster bomb - destined for Bocholt, Germany - crashed in the forest about a mile from Mundford, causing a huge explosion.

A memorial was unveiled at the crash site in 1999, but local couple Robin and Pat Tuck wanted to see something more permanent at the church.

Mr Tuck, 72, who was nine years old at the time, still vividly remembers the incident.

“We were in the school playground and this aircraft came over and there was this huge bang and a big cloud of smoke. You do not forget something like that,” he said.

Mrs Tuck added: “There might not be anyone to look after the forest memorial when we are gone, but if there is something at the church, it is there forever. The youngest member was 19 years old and they should not be forgotten.”

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