Service to mark 70th anniversary of Lancaster crash

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the loss of Lancaster Bomber ED503 and her crew, and the Sibsey Lancaster Memorial Trust are holding a commemorative service at East Kirkby Heritage Museum.

The service will take place on Tuesday January 29 at 2.30pm.

Operating out of RAF Coningsby in a fighter affiliation exercise on January 29, 1943, ED503 had its last flight when, 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 strta of wet shifting sands which immediately filled with water and, 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 recovered and the site became their tomb.

The crater 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.

The crew on ED503 were: Flt Lt Robert Frood, Plt Off Charles W H Cocks, Sgt Donald A Brown, Sgt Thomas Henry, Sgt John Doran and Sgt Thomas Wishart.

Everyone is welcome to attend the service, but an idea of numbers would be appreciated for seating arrangements.

Contact Joan Roseveare MBE if you are attending or would like further information on 01526 342352.