Family’s pride as war hero is honoured by Italian town

Betty Crouch and her son and grandson visiting Italy
Betty Crouch and her son and grandson visiting Italy

A WISBECH man killed in Italy during World War II was officially honoured by the town where he died on Saturday.

Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Reginald Barton Stratton died in November 1944 as he fought to liberate the town of Classe Fuori near Ravenna.

He was member of the 2721 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Regiment involved in the operation together with a troop of the 27th Lancers and Italian Partisans.

Sadly he was killed during the fighting and Reginald was buried in Cesena War Cemetery and his name is also recorded on Wisbech War Memorial.

Classe Fuori resident Rossano Novelli managed to track down information about Reginald and had a dream of naming a public park after the brace British servicemen, who is still remembered by some of the older residents.

And on Saturday (September 24) that dream came true when a ceremony was held to name a park at Classe near Ravenna took place. Among the guests was Reginald’s younger sister Betty Crouch, who was traced with the help of the Citizen to her current home town of Blackpool.

Betty was accompanied by her daughter Susan Taylor and son Martin Crouch together with Susan’s husband Ian, and Martin’s wife Tina and there son Alex (8).

Betty, who is extremely proud of the honour given to her lost brother, made a speech of thanks during the ceremony which named the park LAC Reginald Barton Stratton.

The RAF Regiment was represented by Wing Commander Carl Michael West, who arrived from Rome for the occasion and David Kelley of the RAF Regiment Association, from Chatteris.

A special commemorative postcard was issued to mark the occasion.

Later in the afternoon, family members, representatives of the RAF Regiment and some citizens of Classe went to Cesena War Cemetery to visit Reginald’s grave.