A commemorative service at East Kirkby Heritage Museum marked the 70th anniversary of the loss of Lancaster Bomber ED503 and her crew.
It was 70 years to the day that ED503, operating out of RAG Coningsby in a fighter affiliation exercise on January 29, 1943, had its last flight.
Just three miles from the airfield, on-lookers saw the Lancaster climb steeply before stalling and diving into the ground in a ball of flames, deep into the Lincolnshire Fens at Sibsey Northlands.
A huge crater was formed with the impact of the aircraft on the heavy clay topsoil and sub strata of wet shifting saands which immediately filled with water.
Despite three days of pumping by the fire service, it remained waterlogged.
Eventually it had to be abandoned by the rescue team, with just one body, the rear gunner, being recovered, the remaining five crew were not and the site became their tomb.
The carter was filled in and a stone cross erected by the next of kin to make a grave for the missing airmen.
The County Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Bert Barrack MBE from Tattershall, ensured the crew would not be forgotten and in 1985 he set about the task of having the Memorial restored and rededicated.
The Grant family, owners of the field, renewed the concrete base and posts while the Lincolnshire Aviation Society cleaned the memorial in time for the rededication service in September 1985.
Great lengths were taken to trace relatives of each dead airman and RAF Coningsby have adopted the memorial to prevent it falling into disrepair again.
Fred Hunt, a member of the Royal British Legion and Chaiman of the Lancaster Memorial Society, witnessed the crash taking place when he was 11 years old.
Fred said: “The memorial was excellent, it went very well.
“It really is important that we remember the events of that day, and I don’t think that England and the United Kingdom would be the same without our soldiers.”
Over 150 people attended the commemorative service at the Heritage Museum.
“I’m delighted that so many people attended the service,” Fred continued.
“The War Graves Commission refused to mark the site because they weren’t ‘in active service’.
“As far as I’m concerned they were in active service, so it’s important we remember them.
“I can still remember seeing the crash. The explosion only happened about a mile away from where I lived.”
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