We’ll Not Forget Braves Of 1943
by Callum Jones
A memorial stone to remember the 10 US Air Corps men who died in a plane crash in Northamptonshire during World War Two has been officially unveiled.
Helmdon Parish council has agreed to install the memorial, which is shaped like an open book, 66 years after 10 American servicemen lost their lives in a crash in Astwell, near Brackley.
The stone, costing £500, has been paid for by the US Air Force and will now be incorporated into the official Remembrance Day ceremony in Helmdon on Sunday.
The memorial has been installed due to the work of Derek Ratledge, whose father Bert witnessed the crash in 1943. In the past two years, Mr Ratledge has managed to track down the names of the 10 servicemen who died, and contacted their families.
He said: “It is a great feeling that, after 66 years, there is a stone to record the deaths of the American servicemen. When I started this back in 2007, no one even knew for sure what year the plane had crashed.
“Now some of the American families, who did not even know each other, have been in touch for the very first time.”
Parish council chairman, Peter Burns, said the whole village had been very supportive of the proposal to build a permanent reminder of the American servicemen who died in Astwell.
Mr Burns said: “The parish council did not see any objections to it and where was a consultation with residents of the village, and we did not find anyone who was against it. It is a good way of remembering the servicemen who lost their lives.”
The ten service men were: Squadron leader Captain Richard Winston Pugh, co pilot; 1st Lt William M Holland, pilot; F/O Leighton D Paterson, navigator; Lt William S Munro, bombardier; T/Sgt Thomas D Glaspell, engineer gunner; T/Sgt Billy B Freeman, radio operator; S/ Sgt Dean Landfear, waist gunner; S/Sgt Charles E Slayton, waist gunner; S/Sgt Harry A Scott, ball turret gunner and S/Sgt Henry P Brannan, tail gunner.
Relatives of the servicemen are unable to make the Remembrance Day event and are intending to visit the new memorial later this month.
Northamptonshire Chronicle & Echo – 5th November 2009