Memorial planned to honour crew of tragic bomber

Bid to raise funds for memorial to RAF crews who died in a Lancaster Bomber crash. Picture: FILE PHO

Bid to raise funds for memorial to RAF crews who died in a Lancaster Bomber crash. Picture: FILE PHOTO - Credit: qTwte5fTUXimjQpcBPMHoqwriHBd5/M7

A memorial is being planned to a young bomber crew who died when their Lancaster crashed into Great Paxton just a few months before the end of the Second World War.

The seven-strong crew had taken of from nearby RAF Graveley on a foggy Christmas Eve in 1944 but the fully-laden aircraft, PB366, failed to gain height, clipping trees at the top of the village and a house in London Lane before finally coming down in a field near to what is now Brookside.

All the crew, with an average age of 22, died in the crash and villagers had a narrow escape because the bombs broke free on impact, one coming to a rest at the back of Low Farm, where it failed to explode.

It hit the bathroom, which had been occupied.

Now Great Paxton History Society has launched a campaign to honour the 35 Squadron crew, who had been taking part in a raid on Cologne, with a special memorial.

Graham James, from the society, said: "Whilst there are general memorials to the airmen from RAF Graveley who were killed during the war, none specifically mentions the names of the crew that suffered in this tragedy.

"The memorial will consist of a steel sculpture representing the Lancaster upon a large stone with a plaque giving brief details of the men who died."

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He added: "The stone will stand on a grass mound, surrounded by a low hedge and plants, in Dovecote Lane."

A date for the opening of the memorial will be set once funding is complete.

The crew who died were pilot F/O Arthur Kenyon, navigator Sgt Albert Thomas, bomb-aimer Flt Sgt Alec Cousins, wireless operator Flt Sgt Cecil Blundell, air gunner Sgt Cyril Winter, air gunner Sgt Roy Yallop and flight engineer Sgt Leonard Williams.

Part of the Path Finder Force, the Lancaster had been heading for the Nippes Marshalling Yard in Cologne when disaster struck a short distance from home and just months away from the end of the war in Europe.

Donations can be made to: or by cheque made payable to Great Paxton History Society. Collection boxes will be available in the village shop and the Bell public house.