Today servicemen from RAF Odiham attended the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the memory of 8 men killed in a mid air collision near the historic RAF Dunsfold in 1944.
On the 7th January 1944 at around 13:35 two RAF B-25 Mitchell II bombers collided in the skies above Rudgwick in West Sussex. The aircraft were returning to RAF Dunsfold after bombing a V1 site near Cherbourg in occupied France. All eight of the airmen died in the collision, which occurred as two separate 6 aircraft formations approached the airfield in poor weather.
Mr Tudor-Lane, a researcher from Milton Keynes discovered only a year ago that his great uncle George Ormandy perished on one of the aircraft. Since then he has managed to locate the crash sites of both planes and recovered some of the wreckage, he has also visited the V1 site the sortie bombed on that fated mission.
"Both crash sites are just grass, you'd never know there was the remains of a 12 ton North American B-25 below your feet, let alone that four men perished in each."
Alongside the representatives from RAF Odiham, Wg Cdr Roberts OC 18(B) Sqn and WO Maguire, Station Warrant Officer, were the relatives from the crew of FR396, as well as retired Group Captain Derek North representing the Lord Lieutenants Office. The Mayor of Abergavenny was also present to represent crew member Douglas Morris who had no traceable relatives as he was an only child.
Speaking after the unveiling Mr Tudor-lane Said,
“It’s taken a year and a half to get to this point, my family knew nothing of George and his fate until January 2018, since then I’ve located the crash sites of both planes, traced seven out of the eight relatives - some as far afield as New Zealand, fundraised to build the memorial and today marks the final chapter. I hope we’ve done the lads proud and secured their future so that their sacrifice will always be remembered.”
The crew of FR396 who died were:
Flying Officer Ernest Fooks, 32, pilot, from New Zealand
Pilot Officer Leonard Taylor, 24, navigator, from Birmingham.
Flight Sergeant Charles Forsyth, 23, wireless operator/gunner, from Peacehaven
Flight Sergeant George Ormandy, 20, gunner, from Beckenham.
The crew of FL682 who died were:
Warrant Officer Terence Riordan, pilot, 22, from Abergavenny
F/S Douglas Morris, 23, navigator, from Abergavenny
F/S Stanley Charles Norton, 22, wireless operator, gunner
F/S William Cross, 22, from Preston