Flypast commemorates WW2 bomber-crash crew in Suffolk

  • Published
Image caption,
A V-22 Osprey and a MC-130J bomber out of RAF Mildenhall made a special flypast over Ramsholt

A flypast has taken place to remember eight American airmen who died when a World War Two bomber crashed.

The B-17 Flying Fortress - known as Little Davey II - ditched in the River Deben at Ramsholt, Suffolk, on 20 February, 1945.

The crash was commemorated with a service on Ramsholt Quay, followed by a special flypast by RAF Mildenhall.

Harbour master, George Collins, 89, who remembers the crash, said the crew "sacrificed themselves for us".

Image source, Elbert Conway Collection
Image caption,
The B-17 bomber had left Debach Airfield near Woodbridge six minutes before the crash
Image source, 493rd BR Museum
Image caption,
Eight of the 10 airmen died in the 1945 crash

The 10-strong crew from 493rd Bomb Group were among 2,900 American personnel stationed at Debach Airfield, near Woodbridge, in the final years of World War Two.

The 35-tonne aircraft - loaded with bombs, ammunition and a full fuel tank - was embarking on a bombing mission over Nuremberg, Germany, when it was forced to ditch after catching fire.

It came down six minutes after take off in the River Deben, close to the quay at Ramsholt.

Image source, Orla Moore
Image caption,
The crew of the B-17 was forced to ditch at Ramsholt minutes after take off from Debach Airfield
Image caption,
Villagers have marked the 75th anniversary with a quayside service and flypast

Only two airmen - pilot Frederick Stindt and flight engineer J K Haynes - survived the crash.

A special service was held on the quayside earlier, attended by relatives of the American crew, service personnel, villagers and local schoolchildren.

Flight Lt. Stindt's daughter, Janice Stindt-Vasek, said her father, who died in 1994 at the age of 77, never spoke of the war.

She found out about events in Ramsholt after finding a cigar box full of newspaper cuttings in the family garage, she told the service.

The commemoration concluded with a flypast, involving a MC-130J Commando II and a V22 Osprey, flown by personnel from 67th Special Operations Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall.

Image caption,
The village of Ramsholt, Suffolk, commemorates the crash every year

Mr Collins, who was 14 at the time, said the crew of the B-17 "weren't thinking of themselves".

"We came down at night and you could just see the tail end sticking out of the water," he said.

"They were brave people. They sacrificed their lives."

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