Remembering the heroes

Chris Davies with RAF representatives after the service.
Chris Davies with RAF representatives after the service.

A MEMORIAL to honour the sacrifices made by airmen from a former RAF station has been unveiled.

The large brass plaque was revealed by Air Vice-Marshal Sandy Hunter during a service of dedication held at St John The Divine Church in Red Row. 

It commemorates 29 allied aircrew who were killed or injured in 13 crashes in the area surrounding RAF Acklington during the Second World War.

Air Vice-Marshal Hunter said: “It is a great honour to be invited to unveil this memorial.  It brings back to life the memory of those young men who lost their lives or were injured in the cause of freedom in the Second World War. They fought with great bravery and flew in terrible conditions in aircraft that were not very well developed or well equipped.”

The memorial is the work of Chris Davies, who has spent many years researching aircraft crash sites in the Northumberland area. 

He began investigating the crashes surrounding RAF Acklington following a conversation he had three years ago with a local man, Dave Dunn, who recalled a story his father, the late Eddy Dunn, had told him of a collision over Red Row and that one of the aircraft had crashed in the field behind what was Pettica’s garage.

Chris then drew a two-mile circumference around the village of Acklington and, following research and investigation, discovered the 13 crash sites.

Chris thanked all those who had helped him with his research by telling their stories and those who had helped with the presentation of the memorial.

He said: “I hope that this local history is never forgotten and that in some way this will keep alive the memories of these events and, most importantly the young men who lost their lives.”

The service was conducted by the Rev Wendy Aird and the Exhortation and the Kohima epitaph were read by Wg Cdr Jamie Sharp from RAF Boulmer.  The Last Post and Reveille were played by local bugler Gerald Sanderson and prayers were read by Margaret Eater. 

Members of the Royal Air Forces Association paraded their standards at the service which was attended by veterans, members of the local community and personnel from RAF Boulmer. 

Also present was Ian Hook, whose father Sgt Kenneth Gordon Hook survived one of the crashes and whose name is the last on the memorial.