Crash victims in the Cheviots remembered

Remembrance in the College Valley
Remembrance in the College Valley

A Remembrance service for air crews lost in the Cheviot Hills during the Second World War has been held.

Berwick air cadets were among those atending the service, held at the memorial in the College Valley.

Remembrance in the College Valley

Remembrance in the College Valley

The event was organised by The Parade of Colours team from Coldstream with exceptional assistance from Brian Humphreys, of the RBLS Riders Branch (Jedburgh), and the Factors of The College Valley Estate.

It was the continuation of a promise made to Rod Merrit, son of Sgt Frank Turner, who was killed in a crash on West Hill in 1944.

Keith Cockburn, of The Parade of Colours team, said: “Since the production of the documentary film, To The Border Bred – The Border Collie Story, the Parade of Colours has kept a promise to the son and family of a United States airman killed in the Cheviots on December 16, 1944, when the B17 (serial number 44-6504) crashed into West Hill, killing Flying Officer Fred Holcombe and Sgt Frank Turner, which saw the award of the first (Civilian) Dickin Medal – the animal VC – to a sheepdog called Sheila for saving the lives of four of the survivors.”

The Act of Remembrance has been held in Wooler for the past three years due to logistical issues, but this year it took place in the College Valley again at the Cuddystane Hall, with around 20 people in attendance.

Mr Cockburn gave particular thanks to the cadets, officers and instructors of 1016 Berwick Squadron of the Air Training Corps for their input.

He said: “The Parade team likewise expresses its sincerest gratitude to Cadet Sgt Andrew Young 1016 Sqn for an excellent recital of the USAAF Hymn, and to Cadet Cpl Sam McWilliams 1016 Sqn who deputised for our usual parade wreath bearer – Ali Martin – who unfortunately was unable to join us due to ill health.

“It is, however, to Fl Lt Susan Gillies, PO Lucas Emmins, Sgt Richard McCrae and the Cadet Detachment of 1016 Sqn as a whole we offer our utmost appreciation and respects.

“Our association with the cadets now extends over four years – and they never fail to impress us with their impeccable manners, attitude, discipline and obvious pride in what they are undertaking. These youngsters are a credit to the Royal Air Force cadets, to their officers and instructors, to their families, but more so these cadets are a credit to themselves.

“It is an absolute pleasure and privilege to associate with the Squadron and the Parade team offer them our sincerest Salute.”