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Harleston Royal British Legion come out to honour deaths of RAF servicemen





More than 150 people attended a ceremony in Harleston this week to mark 80 years since the deaths of seven forgotten World War Two airmen.

On March 9, 1942, seven servicemen lost their lives in two separate crashes in Harleston and Redenhall. Until this week, both incidents had gone without any formal commemoration.

Terry Pegg, the branch secretary of the Harleston and District Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), first learned of the crashes three years ago whilst researching the crashes of two American planes.

“I was researching the crashes and I spoke to one of the witnesses, who asked me if I knew anything about RAF Wellington, which had crashed in Harleston years before,” said the 65-year-old.

The ceremony, held at the war memorial in Harleston, was led by Harleston Royal British Legion. Picture: Mecha Morton.
The ceremony, held at the war memorial in Harleston, was led by Harleston Royal British Legion. Picture: Mecha Morton.

“I had no idea and there was nobody around the town that had known about it, so I wanted to make it right.”

RAF Wellington, from 9 Squadron at RAF Honington, was returning from a raid in Germany when its engine caught fire before crashing near Briar Farm in Harleston, killing all six on board.

Whilst undertaking months of research into the crash, Mr Pegg learned of another incident where a Hawker Hurricane crashed in nearby Redenhall on the very same day, killing the pilot, Sergeant Horace Dolman.

Pupils from local schools in Harleston also came out to pay their respects. Picture: Mecha Morton.
Pupils from local schools in Harleston also came out to pay their respects. Picture: Mecha Morton.

With the help of Harleston Museum and The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, Mr Pegg began to piece together information about the deaths of the forgotten servicemen.

On Wednesday, council officials and local branches of the RBL gathered around the war memorial in Harleston to hold a two-minute silence in recognition of the men who gave their lives for their country 80 years prior. The son of one of the members of 9 Squadron also travelled from France to attend the ceremony.

Several peak spoke at the ceremony, including council officials members of the clergy at the local Church. Picture: Mecha Morton.
Several peak spoke at the ceremony, including council officials members of the clergy at the local Church. Picture: Mecha Morton.

“There were a few people that said it has been a long time coming and we have put right something that was wrong,” added Mr Pegg.

“We can now say that the town of Harleston has remembered these brave young men, who died in our parish, in service of their country.”



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