RAF memorial finally unveiled as Chatteris remembers on Armistice Day
- Credit: Terry Harris/Daniel Mason
A memorial to remember multiple airmen killed in and around Chatteris during the Second World War has been unveiled.
The memorial was unveiled at a ceremony at the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul today (Thursday) after the town paused to remember those who lost their lives in conflict on Armistice Day.
Tina Prior, member of the Royal British Legion’s (RBL) Chatteris branch, said: “It’s nice that it’s all finished and fitting we could unveil it on Armistice Day.”
A campaign led by the Chatteris branch of the Royal British Legion to set up a memorial, delayed due to Covid-19, came in 2018 during the centenary year of the Royal Air Force.
Around £5,000 has since been raised to install a large boulder which shows a commemorative plaque created by apprentices at Stainless Metalcraft.
An information board has also been uncovered about the seven aircraft that crashed in or near Chatteris between February 1939 to February 1945.
Tina said: “I think it’s important to help highlight the fact that remembrance is not just about things that have happened far away, but right on our doorstep.”
A Hawker Hind K6752 was seen from Chatteris doing what eyewitness Thomas Skeels described as “daredevil stunts” over Ely before it hit the ground on February 5, 1939.
Pilot, Sergeant Ralph Herbert Wright, died but it is unclear exactly where the crash happened.
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On July 12, 1941, a Blenheim Bomber MK IV lost control and crashed at Old Harves near Chatteris.
A Wellington MK 1C then crashed while on a night navigation exercise on September 10, 1941 where pilot, flying officer Joshua Stephen Willis, died.
On February 2, 1943, a Miles Master Mk killed two men after it hit ground near Bensons Farm.
In May that year, a Lancaster GT-J landed between Chatteris and Warboys after pilot, squadron leader Brian Lawless Duigan, ordered the crew to bail out after running low on fuel on its way to Dortmund.
All crew members survived.
A Mosquito XV1 crashed on January 15, 1945 but only two out of seven crew members survived when a Lancaster Bomber ME450 hit the ground close to Chatteris gasworks on the site of what is now Jack’s supermarket.
The memorial was also to be a fitting send-off for Norman Larke, who leaves his post as chairman of the Chatteris RBL branch after 20 years.
“My time here has been very good,” Norman said.
“I’m over the moon the memorial is here - it reflects the work that the committee and the Chatteris community have put in.”