GALLERY: Tree standing over Fenland field tells of heroic story

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 August 2011

A tree near Benwick planted in memory of an American pilot who died in an aircrash in 1989.

A tree near Benwick planted in memory of an American pilot who died in an aircrash in 1989.

Archant

HUNDREDS of people will fly past this memorial and not realise the story behind the tree set against the rolling Fenland landscape.

American pilot Captain Donald Roberts was flying his A-10 aircraft on his way back to RAF Bentwaters after a practice bombing run in the Wash when he crashed into a field a mile south of Benwick on April 17 1989.

Reports indicated that he stayed with his plane to avoid crashing down in the village saving many innocent lives.

Arthur and Beryl Lea, who lived in a nearby bungalow called the emergency services when Cptn Roberts crashed. They attended the Ibberson’s Drove memorial eight years ago, when it was ren-dedicated after a farmer accidently knocked down the previous tree.

The 29-year-old pilot from Rochester, New York, was the third American to crash an A-10 in Cambridgeshire in five months.

He was with the 510th Fighter Squadron (the Buzzards) which was stationed at RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk after they were reactivated in 1979 because of the Cold War.

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