My thanks to everyone who turned-up at the Westgate war memorial in the pouring rain this afternoon for the remembrance service for the crews of the two Liberator bombers. I was amazed at the number of people present, Thanet councillors, Mike Roberts, the deputy-chair of Thanet District Council, Margate Charter Trustees, members of the British Legion and service men and woman's association, Laura Sandys, members of the cadet corps and the RAF
Two gentlemen who were among the first at each of the crash sites, Mr Smyth from Westgate and Mr Chapman from Margate, also shared their memories of that evening and how they helped in the efforts to rescue survivors.
Particular thanks to John Pritchard, Cllr Ella Pritchard, Cheryl Ezekiel and our Mayor Brian Sullivan for helping bring this event together so quickly. I even heard from the Sgt Gallahan from the US Air Force at Lakenheath this afternoon, who was most helpful and supportive and I'm hoping that we can build today's ceremony into a larger event next year with support from the US Embassy.
Dr John Pritchard has sent me some more photographs, the first being the crashed Liberator bomber in St Mildred's Bay, Westgate
The other photos being two of the crew members, John Ross and Marvin Gurwit.
Interestingly, Mr Smyth, who was sitting in the Swan pub when the Liberator hit the rocks between St Mildred's Bay and West Bay, tells me that the pilot, Jacob Weinheimer, was unharmed and thanked him for helping save his crew. However, it was the co-pilot, Lt George C. Marshall, who received the Distinguished Flying Cross. This strikes me as very unusual, as the commander of the aircraft would normally receive the higher award. However, I'm wondering, alongside historian John Pritchard, whether Lt. Marshall, might have been related to General George Marshall, the famous architect of the Marshall plan? A little more research may be required.