Memorial to war-time bomber crew planned for Huntingdonshire village

There are plans to honour the crew of the Lancaster bomber that crashed at Great Paxton.

There are plans to honour the crew of the Lancaster bomber that crashed at Great Paxton. - Credit: ARCHANT

A memorial to a bomber crew who died when their Lancaster aircraft crashed into farmland at Great Paxton just months before the war in Europe was over has moved a step closer.

Plans for the memorial at the village’s Holy Trinity Church, featuring a granite column topped by an RAF-style eagle, have now been submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council.

Relatives of the seven men who died, aged between 21 and 24, will be invited to the unveiling ceremony  which will take place once the memorial is complete.

Graham James, from the local history group which is responsible for the memorial, said: “We had to have a rethink about the location of the memorial and we are now going through the planning procedure again.

“It will now be in a corner of the churchyard and will fit in well with existing memorials. In fact, the new memorial is being made of granite from a quarry very close to the Cornish quarry used for the existing war memorial.”

Mr James added: “There will be an unveiling ceremony once the works are complete and we expect it to attract a lot of interest both locally and nationally. We will be inviting some relatives of the aircrew, and members of the RAF and the Royal British Legion. There are also many groups around the country who are very interested in the Lancaster bomber and the progress is being closely followed.” 

He added: “Funding for the project came from individual donations and grants from the parish council and the builders Redrow. The Lancaster, from 35 Squadron, has just taken off from nearby RAF Graveley on Christmas Eve 1944 when it clipped trees and a house before crashing into the ground, killing the crew who died from multiple injuries and burns.

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The aircraft had been fully laden with bombs as part of a Pathfinder Force operation against marshalling yards at Cologne when it crashed, with the bombs being thrown clear and failing to explode - one of which hit the occupied bathroom of a house.

The pilot is believed to have lost control on take-off in foggy conditions during which the airfield’s pioneering fog dispersal system was in operation.  

Mr James said they were hoping to have a flypast from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which included a Lancaster bomber, as part of the memorial ceremony.