On the afternoon of Friday, 16 August Susan Pyper, the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, unveiled a memorial on Tangmere airfield to seven airmen who lost their lives on 19 November 1943, whentheir Halifax bomber, returning from a raid over Germany, attempted to make an emergency landing at RAF Tangmere. The aircraft, after making a number of missed approaches, crashed into the last remaining General Purpose Belfast Truss hangar (the others had been destroyed by the Luftwaffe attack on Tangmere during the Battle of Britain in 1940). All seven crew members perished. Aly Etherington, a great niece of one of the crew, who had worked tirelessly to get permission for a memorial to be placed at the crash site, organised the event with support from the Museum. Earlier in the week the weather forecast for the unveiling service had been poor with heavy rain and strong winds expected and this unfortunately caused the cancellation of a fly past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane.
The Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving, conducted by RAF Padre, Flight Lieutenant Jonny Newell, commenced at 1445 with the arrival of the Lord Lieutenant accompanied by the Museum’s Chairman, Group Captain David Baron. Hymns were accompanied by members a brass band made up of local musicians. Guarding the memorial were four airmen from the Queen’s Colour Squadron and dignitaries who laid wreaths included Wing Commander Al Scott RAF, the present CO of No 10 Squadron (the Halifax’s squadron) and Jean Rogers, County President of the Royal British Legion. Family members of the crew members who lost their lives also laid wreaths and later were present in the Museum’s memorial garden when a plaque listing the crew members of the Halifax was unveiled by Peter (Andy) Andrews, a wartime No 10 Squadron wireless operator/air gunner.
Photo: David Burleigh