Gallery: Town's RAF memorial is unveiled at last
A campaign to remember the many airmen killed in crashes in the skies over Chatteris during the Second World War has finally come to fruition with the unveiling of a special memorial.
The memorial created from a three tonnes glacial boulder from Wales was unveiled at a ceremony on Thursday as part of the town's annual Armistice Day commemorations in the grounds of the parish church.
An appeal was launched in 2018 - the 100th anniversary of the RAF - to raise around £5,000 to pay for the memorial, which includes plaques created by apprentices at Stainless Metalcraf remembering the crews of seven aircraft lost during the war over and around Chatteris between February 1939 and February 1945.
However, the pandemic delayed the project which was due to be completed last spring, however, Tina Prior, of Chatteris Royal British Legion, said: “It’s nice that it’s all finally finished and it is fitting we could unveil it on Armistice Day.”
She added: "I think it’s important to help highlight the fact that remembrance is not just about things that have happened far away, but right on our doorstep and this wonderful memorial will help to do that.”
An information board was also unveiled during the ceremony giving details of the seven crashes including that of a Hawker Hind K6752, which crashed on February 5 1939. Thomas Skeels, an eyewitness from Chatteris, reported seeing the plan pulling 'daredevil stunts' over Ely shortly before the crash, which killed pilot Sgt Ralph Herbert Wright - however the exact location of where it came down is unknown.
In 1941 a Bleinham Bomber MKIV crashed near Old Halves Farm just off the Somersham Road as it practised emergency landings without radio assistance with the loss of all three crew members.
Five of the seven man crew of a Lancaster Bomber were killed when it hit the ground near Chatteris gasworks in February 1945.
Details of all seven crashes together with images of some of those involved was published alongside the memorial, which is available for a minimum £2 donation from the library or The Old Bakery or by contacting email@example.com.
Thursday's event was also the final one for Norman Larke who is giving up at the Chatteris branch chairman after 20 years.
He said he was over the moon with the memorial and said: "My time with the RBL has been very good, and I'm over the moon with the memorial - it is a great reflection of the hardwork that the committee and the Chatteris community has put in to make it a reality."