A memorial dedicated to eight RAF airmen killed in a mid-air collision during the Second World War has been unveiled at RAF Odiham.
Service personal and family members came together to remember the airmen, who died close to the historic airbase at nearby RAF Dunsfold on January 7, 1944. Also in attendance were retired Gp Capt Derek North, representing the lord lieutenant’s office, and the Mayor of Abergavenny.
Shortly after 13.35 on that day, 75 years ago, a pair of British-marked B-25 Mitchell IIIs were among those returning from Cherbourg, France. A dozen of the medium bombers made up the flight, which had bombed a V-1 launch site. They divided into two formations of six as the aircraft approached RAF Dunsfold in poor weather. While passing over Rudgwick, West Sussex, two of the B-25s, FR396 and FL682 of 180 and 98 Squadrons respectively, collided. The spiralling wreckage plummeted to the ground in fields nearby, the debris of the aircraft landing approximately 1,100ft (335m) apart.
A year ago, Adam Tudor-Lane, a researcher from Milton Keynes, discovered his great uncle George Ormandy was a gunner on FR396 and one of the eight who died in the collision. Since then he has located the crash sites of both aircraft and recovered some of the wreckage. Tudor-Lane has also visited the V-1 site bombed on that fated mission.
|THE CREW OF FR396, 180 SQN RAF|
|Pilot||Fg Off Ernest Fooks||32, from New Zealand|
|Navigator||Plt Off Leonard Taylor||24, from Birmingham|
|Wireless Operator/Gunner||Flt Sgt Charles Forsyth||23, from Peacehaven|
|Gunner||Flt Sgt George Ormandy||20, from Beckenham|
|THE CREW OF FL682, 98 SQN RAF|
|Pilot||W/O Terence Riordan||22, from Abergavenny|
|Navigator||Flt Sgt Douglas Morris||23, from Abergavenny|
|Wireless Operator/Gunner||Flt Sgt Stanley Charles Norton||22, unknown|
|Gunner||Flt Sgt William Cross||22, from Preston|
Speaking after the unveiling, he said: “It’s taken a year and a half to get to this point, my family knew nothing of George and his fate until January 2018, since then I’ve located the crash sites, traced seven of the eight [men’s] relatives [and] fundraised to build the memorial.
“Today marks the final chapter. I hope we’ve done the lads proud and secured their future so that their sacrifice will always be remembered.”