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Four airmen whose plane crashed in Norfolk during the war will be remembered at memorial

PUBLISHED: 16:09 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 20:49 23 July 2018

Flight Sergeant Robert Gapp's grave. Picture: supplied by David Steward

Flight Sergeant Robert Gapp's grave. Picture: supplied by David Steward

Archant

Four airmen who died when their plane crashed during the Second World War are to be remembered at a memorial.

Flight Lieutenant John Frutiger, Sergeant Robert Chanin, Sergeant John Hill and Flight Sergeant Robert Gapp, all of 61 Squadron, were in their early twenties when they set off from RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire on a mission to Wilhelmshaven.

On their return, their Handley Page Hampden crashed at Bluestone Plantation, near Cawston, on February 10, 1941, while attempting an emergency landing.

The unveiling of the plaque on the memorial will follow a service in St Agnes’ Church, Cawston at 10.30am on Sunday, September 2. Some family members and friends of the air crew are expected to be in attendance.

David Steward, of the Cawston Historical Society, said: “It was prompted when we were putting together a DVD of the history of the village. One person recalled this incident, and it seemed the appropriate time to do something.”

Another society member Des Cook said the son of the policeman in the village at the time told the group about it.

“He must have been only 10 or 11 at the time,” he said. “His name was Bill Sampson but I cannot remember his father’s name.”

In a video on the society’s website, resident Brian Turner recalled the incident. He said: “The plane was making a terrible noise going round. As a child I remember being held up to see it. Flames were licking out of the plane. I remember hearing the ammunition going off. It landed in what we called Blackberry wood at the Bluestone Plantation.”

One of the airmen, Sergeant Chanin, died on his 21st birthday.

The Handley Page Hampden was a twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force and it served in the early stages of the war.

The memorial already has a plaque on it in honour of the crew of the aircraft, Lucky Strike, which was flying back from a raid on submarine pens at Kiel in January 1944, when it crashed at Church Farm, Cawston with the loss of two of the crew.

Anyone interested in attending the unveiling can contact Cawston Historical Society at www.cawstonheritage.co.uk/contact

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