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Poignant sign hails village's past

PUBLISHED: 20:43 17 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:07 07 July 2010

A POIGNANT village sign depicting Lakenheath's war past has been unveiled in front of veterans and loved ones of servicemen who died during the second world war.

A POIGNANT village sign depicting Lakenheath's war past has been unveiled in front of veterans and loved ones of servicemen who died during the second world war.

Lakenheath's role during the conflict, which saw 612 airmen from RAF Lakenheath killed and 121 aircraft lost, has been recognised with a Stirling bomber taking pride of place on the new village landmark.

For Ann McAndrew, the unveiling brought mixed emotions as the father-she-never-met flew from RAF Lakenheath but died while on a bombing raid, aged just 27.

She explained: “My father, Warrant Officer Reginald William Pearson, flew out this area on December 12, 1942. The aircraft disappeared and was never found so technically he is officially missing, presumed dead.

“I never met him, as I was just a baby, but seeing the aircraft up there on the sign does bring it all back. I am very proud that the bomber is part of the design.”

After marrying a USAF serviceman, Ann moved to Lakenheath and described living in the village where her father was based as a “strange quirk of fate”.

Bernard How, 83, a flight sergeant who flew Stirling Bombers, was equally pleased with the sign, which had been in the pipeline for 18 months.

He said: “I was stationed at RAF Lakenheath during the war and it is great to see the bombers remembered and on the sign. It brings all the memories back. I enjoying being stationed here and the bomber was a beautiful aircraft. It was not very pretty when it was on the ground but once it got flying it was great.”

The new sign, to replace the “dilapidated” old one, was first discussed 18 months ago by members of Lakenheath Parish Council.

As well as the bomber, the sign also makes reference to the parish church and the town's blossoming RSPB Lakenheath Fen nature reserve.

Council vice chairman Anne Chambers said: “We talked to people about what they wanted and we thought a Stirling bomber would be very apt. But people also wanted to pay tribute to the nature reserve which has only been around for a couple of years but is so beautiful and also important to Lakenheath from a tourism point of view.”

Neil Horne, the designer of the fibreglass sign, said: “The project was quite time consuming, it took about a year to make, but I am very pleased with how it turned out.”

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