War heroes remembered

WITH a busy harbour as backdrop, people stood in solemn tribute at a poignant ceremony to rededicate a memorial to a brave Second World War bomber crew.

WITH a busy harbour as backdrop, people stood in solemn tribute at a poignant ceremony to rededicate a memorial to a brave Second World War bomber crew.

Just yards from where the plane crashed into the waters of the Orwell estuary, members of service organisations, military officers and port officials gathered to remember the three men who died.

Felixstowe Seafarers' Centre chaplain Rev Ken Martin led prayers as standards were presented.

It was decided to hold the service following repairs to the memorial at the Viewing Area alongside the Port of Felixstowe.

The port paid for the repairs to the metre-high granite plinth after one of its sides was damaged in January's gales.

Today, port public relations manager Rachael Jackson said the port had been in touch with the Royal Air Force Association.

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“They were delighted that we would carry out the repairs and were also very enthusiastic about rededicating the memorial,” she said.

“We were very surprised at the damage but a lot of things took quite a battering from the strong winds.

“It is an important memorial and we felt it should be repaired as soon as possible.”

The men of 44 Squadron were killed on June 4, 1940, as they returned home from a bombing mission.

In dense fog, their Hampden medium bomber - known as “flying coffins” by those who flew them - struck a barrage balloon cable and plummeted into the estuary mud, breaking into pieces.

Pilot Edwin Spencer ejected to safety but his crew from 44 Squadron, air gunner Sergeant Samuel Connell, observer Pilot Officer Reginald Roots, and air gunner Sergeant Albert Kendrew were killed.

Remains of the bomber were discovered during work to build a £45 million extension to Trinity Terminal in 1995.

Dredgers found twisted and mangled wreckage from the plane, which had been returning from a raid on German troops or railway communications.

Workers on the dredger also found part of a human jawbone. It was not known if this belonged to any of the crew and was handed to the coroner. Wreckage from the Hampden, which included a giant black Dunlop wheel and engine parts, was handed to the RAF.

Do you remember the crash? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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