03 September 2018
An evocative memorial dedicated to the crews of two Avro Lancaster bombers that collided in the skies over Nottinghamshire, close to the village on Bleasby, was unveiled, 75 years after the tragedy.
The mid-air collision that took place on 1 September, 1943 between a 61 Squadron, Lancaster, JB132, that was returning to nearby RAF Syerston, from a bombing raid on Berlin; and Lancaster, R5698, from 1654 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit), based at RAF Wigsley, in Nottinghamshire. A total of 14 airmen were lost in this one collision.
The memorial was raised as part of a community project led by Bleasby resident Ken Ogilvie, and overseen by Bleasby Parish Council, the churchwardens of St Mary’s Church, and Bleasby Local History Society.
The concept design of the memorial was created by Nottingham architect Keith Clark, villager’s Derek McGrath and Ken Ogilvie. It was engineered, manufactured and installed by Michael Wright, of D&M Stonemasons of Redhill, Nottingham, and his partners in India.
The main part of the memorial is a stone seat, which is a scale replica of a Lancaster tail section; the crew names and aircraft / squadron details of four crashes are inscribed on in the inner and outer surfaces of the vertical tail fins.
This commemorative seat is set to the rear of a paved area featuring a stone plaque that incorporates the crew names and aircraft/squadron of another three crashes. A total seven aircraft and crew losses are commemorated on the memorial.
Around 180 invited guests, including relatives of the airmen commemorated on the memorial, and civic dignitaries, attended a Thanksgiving Service at the nearby St Mary’s Church, Bleasby. The service was led by the Bleasby parish vicar, Revd. Phil White MA and the Venerable Robin Turner CB DL (RAF Ret’d). Work on the project started back in 2013 and money to fund the memorial was raised via special events, talks and other activities, including a steam train charter on the Great Central Railway. A grant of £5,500 came from Nottinghamshire County Council’s Local Improvement Scheme supported by the local member for Southwell, Roger Jackson, and Mrs Sue Saddington, the member for Farndon.
The memorial is located on Glebe Field, just across from the Waggon & Horses public house and next to St Mary’s Church, Bleasby. There is a small car parking area adjacent to the church and memorial site.
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