Dear Mr Hillman and Mrs Campbell-Roberts
Thank you both so much for your lovely letters. After trying for
so long to make contact with any relatives of William I must admit that
your timely and full response has come as a very pleasant surprise.
The memorial dedication and flypast are set for the 28th August
1999, which is a Saturday, at 11am. Is there a possibility that either
of you, your mother Mr Hillman, your brother Elizabeth, or any member of
your family could attend. I realise that it is quite short notice, has
logistical problems etc, but the people of our village send you a very
warm invitation and would help out at this end as much as possible. We
all would dearly like to meet you.
So far we have relatives from, I think, about four of the men killed,
including the sister of the 16 year old Edward Wright. The Mayor of Stafford
is attending, together with the Commanding Officer from 16MU RAF Stafford,
(they sent the fire crews out to the crashed plane and this is where I
obtained photos from), the Air Attaché from your Canadian High Commission,
members of the British Legion, an RAF guard of honour plus local people
with memories of the crash and local and national newspapers with TV coverage...The
service at the site will be given by Canon John Greaves our super vicar
of Sandon and Burston. We have arranged a lunch afterwards. Whatever happens
we will take some photos and hopefully a video which we will gladly send.
A few notes as to what led up to this event:
When we moved into Sandon House (wife Kathy, daughters Sarah and
Kate and son James) some 21years ago, I found whilst clearing out the stables
a tube with a bright orange box kite inside which thank goodness I kept
through curiosity. Some years later the previous occupant of the house
called by who explained that it was from the Lancaster that had crashed
in the village. He was Doctor Bocking one of the first on the scene and
did his best to help the men, but sadly to no avail.
I spoke to people in the village and most were surprised that very
was known of these chaps who had laid down their lives for us so close
to the end of the war.
I approached RAF Stafford who were very helpful and supplied me
with copies of photographs of the crashed plane. These had never been seen
by any non Air Force people before. I quietly went to the field, and from
still existing features located the exact place of the crash. Of course
nothing can be seen now but for the grassy field, but it was a moving experience.
After many stop/start efforts at getting information together, I
handed my file over to our local branch of the British Legion whose members
(mostly retired now!) had the time and contacts to take the search forward.
In our local church there are many memorials to local people lost
in wars and conflicts, but none to these chaps who actually died in our
midst. We have decided that the memorial stone and inscription will be
erected close to the crash site, on the roadside of the hedge, so that
it can be seen by all who pass. The site will be kept mown and tidy by
Would it be possible please if it is not too much trouble to send
the information and copies of photographs that you have. We would treasure
anything you send and will collate it with all the other information that
we have to make a lasting book of history. I am sorry that have not been
contacted since giving some information to a `gentleman` from England before,
but we know nothing of this.