On 5th September 2012, the Aylesbury and Halton Branch of RAFA hosted an evening organised by Mr Jim Matthews, whose father was involved some years ago with the excavation of a Lancaster bomber which crashed near Ashridge, Buckinghamshire.
On the night of 5th March 1945, six of the seven crew of Lancaster PB475 died when their airplane
Crash landed in a field, just 10 minutes before landing after a raid over Eastern Germany. The only survivor was the tail gunner Bill Heart. To date the only relatives to have been traced have been those of Glen Torr who was the crews’ bomb aimer.
On the 13th May 2012, a stone and plaque was placed at the site and dedicated to their memory. The dedication ceremony was attended by local residents and Royal Air Force personnel, including a serving member of the Royal Australian Air Force who was temporarily based at RAF Halton, all of whom paid their respects. This was followed by the laying of wreaths. In addition, the Lancaster Bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a fly-past over the site at Bloomfield Farm, Bellingdon, near Ashridge, Buckinghamshire.
Similar services were also held in Farrell Flat, South Australia and in Sydney, Australia to remember the joint RAF and RAAF crew.
The packed RAFA clubhouse enjoyed a buffet meal and watched a short film showing the crash site and dedication ceremony. A further film using original wartime footage explained in detail aircrew procedures prior to, during and after a Berlin bombing mission. This was a fascinating reminder to one RAFA member in particular: Mr Tom Payne who had piloted Lancasters himself during the war.
Mr Matthews and several RAFA members generously provided historical and aircraft-related memorabilia to be auctioned which raised £725. The proceeds are to be equally divided between the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Royal Australian Air Force Benevolent Fund.