Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wings Over

It had all the appearance of a summer's day and the size of the crowds reflected the good weather as the community turned-out to support the 'Folded Wings' memorial service in Sea Road yesterday.

Some readers may have seen it reported on the BBC South-east News or ITV's 'Meridian Tonight' or even heard the story on BBC Radio Kent but I would like to extend a personal note of thanks to everyone who made it possible this year, and in particular the Mayor of Margate and the Margate Charter Trustees, the many veterans associations, the presiding clergy, Dr John Pritchard, the United States Air Force and the families of the bomber crews who joined us from the United States.

A special note of gratitude goes to 'Capt' Terry Brown, who provided us with a fly-past with his vintage Stampe SV4 biplane, to replace the F15 fighters from Lakenheath that we had all been hoping for. As I wrote in an earlier post, the operational training for these aircraft was interrupted by the volcanic ash cloud and as a consequence, we lost our display slot.

I now have a few photographs of the occasion up on my Flickr site which are available to view and download, here.

One very touching part of the event was when I introduced Mark Weinheimer, the son of the pilot of the Westgate Liberator crash to Westgate resident, Mr. Smyth, who as a young man, rescued his father from the aircraft in 1944. This story was captured in part by the different news programmes. I would like to thank Cllr Iris Johnston for her part in tracking down Mr Smyth and bringing him to the event for this very special moment. Also in attendance and interviewed by BBC Radio Kent, was Mr. Chapman, one of the first on the scene of the bomber crash at Foreness Point and I'm delighted that the memories of both these gentleman have been captured by the media for the archives.

The formal part of the event and the return of Lt Hafner's dog tags was made possible by the involvement of Lt Col Price, the Assistant United States Air Force Attache from the embassy in London (pictured with Mr Chapman). He very kindly arranged for an USAF Honour Guard to come all the way from Mildenhall and their presence and his was an important part of the occasion.

If you visit the clifftop at Westgate, just to the west of the pavilion, you'll see that the Margate Carter Trustees have installed a plaque commemorating the events of 27th April 1944. It overlooks the site of the West Bay crash and tells a little of the history.

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