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Video: Moving memorial service for 50th anniversary of crash

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A place of comfort where a relative may come and weep or just stand and smile silently, bringing a sense of peace and memories of happier years.

That was how the Rev Bill Pegg described the memorial at Market Rasen Station to the crew of Valiant WZ363, which crashed just yards away in a field on Linwood Road on May 6, 1964.

And 50 years on, family members of each of the crew gathered together for the first time to remember their loved ones, at a service led by the Rev Pegg, Honorary Chaplain of the Aircrew Association.

In all, around 200 people joined in the memorial event, with many groups and associations also represented and Market Rasen RESDEV Band providing the music.

The event was organised by the town’s Station Adoption Group, which four years ago put up a memorial plaque to the five crew members.

Those killed were Flt Lt Christopher Welles, 26, the captain; co-pilot Flt Lt George Arthur Mills, 28; Flt Lt John Robert Stringer, 37, and Flt Lt Leslie Richard Hawkins, 30, navigators, and, air electronics operator Sgt Richard Noble, 25.

“I was particularly pleased that I was able to get the name and address of my brothers’ wife, who we had lost contact with after the crash,” said Fred Noble, brother of Richard, who laid the first wreath.

“I have written to her and hopefully we will meet up and be able to bring each other up to date with what has happened to us in the last 50 years”.

Thoughts from the children left behind ........

Samantha Burman travelled from Thailand to honour the father she never knew.

“I am so glad I came, it has been far more than I expected,” said Samantha, whose mother had split up from her father Christopher Welles some time before the crash.

“I never met Christopher, but being here today has fitted the last piece into place; the jigsaw is now complete.”

Deborah Lewis and Richard Mills didn’t know any details about the crash that killed their father George until they visited the Rasen Mail office in 2006 to look at the newspaper archives.

Deborah was aged four and Richard, just nine months at the time of the accident.

“We have now reached a milestone 50 years on said Deborah.

“It has been a very moving day and I feel this is closure for us in some ways.”

“It is nice to have somewhere to come as a focal point,” added Richard.

“It is not just a plaque, it means a lot to see the names of the crew there and know people are aware of what happened.”

 

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