Wooler service recalls plane crash tragedies

Air crews who lost their lives in the Cheviots were remembered at a service at Wooler war memorial.
Air crews who lost their lives in the Cheviots were remembered at a service at Wooler war memorial.

Air crew who lost their lives in the Cheviots were remembered at a special service at Wooler war memorial on Saturday.

The Remembrance service was organised by the team behind the Armed Forces Day Parade of Colours at Coldstream.

Keith Cockburn, group chairman, said: “The occasion was instigated in 2013 when I was invited to participate in the Shadowcat Film – To The Border Bred – the Border Collie Story.

“I made a promise that day in the College Valley to Rod Merrit that his late father, Sgt Frank Turner of the United States Army Air Force - killed in an accident in our Cheviot Hills - would not be forgotten.”

This year they once again remembered the story of B17G -44-6504 Flying Fortress which crashed on the West Hill on December 16, 1944, and of Sheila the sheepdog who received the first civilian Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross). They also recalled the story of the very first memorial to the crew – erected in 1968 by the Alnwick Boys Club, The Reivers – who manhandled bags of cement 1,300 feet up the hill to place the bent and twisted propellor from the Flying Fortress, along with a plaque commemorating their work on behalf of American Allies.

The cadets of 1016 Berwick Squadron Air Training Corps also attended the service.