Seeking a lasting memorial to a lost RAAF uncle

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Linda Pope may not have been born when her uncle died flying with 460 Squadron but she is determined he and his crew will not be forgotten.

She travelled the 9,000 miles from her home in Australia to see his wartime base at RAF Binbrook and piece together what happened on that fateful day 70 years ago.

“There has always been a little bit of sadness in the family because of this sudden death,” said Linda, “especially as they were never told very much about how it happened.”

Rhodric Leslie Pope joined the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) in 1943, when he was 18 years old and graduated later that year as a wireless operator and air gunner.

He was posted to Binbrook in January 1945 with RAAF 460 Squadron - 10 days later he was killed, just nine days short of his 20th birthday.

Flt Sgt Pope was part of the six-man crew of Lancaster PB812 which crashed at Caythorpe while on a training flight - all were killed.

Linda’s search for what happened started a few years ago when she visited Lincolnshire as part of an RAAF tour.

“We were amazed to discover part of the plane had been excavated in the 1970s and is at East Kirkby, but they had no information who was on the plane,” said Linda.

Since then Linda has been researching the other crew members and has managed to make contact with at least one of their family members.

“It is very much to do with my uncle Leslie but also about the rest of the crew - they were such great buddies,” added Linda, whose trip to Binbrook this month included a visit to the parish church where a memorial book includes the name of her uncle.

“I am very excited by all I have found out and so excited by everyone’s interest in wanting to help - its just wonderful.

“Now I am working to get a memorial near the crash site to remember them all.

“Sadly my dad, Leslie’s younger brother, died last year, but he died happy in the knowledge things were progressing.”