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Wartime heroes remembered in poignant ceremony

PUBLISHED: 17:21 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 30 April 2019

From left - Claire Nugent, Nigel Morter and Marion Bobbins, who laid wreaths in memory of the North Creake crash victims. Picture: Peter Bird

From left - Claire Nugent, Nigel Morter and Marion Bobbins, who laid wreaths in memory of the North Creake crash victims. Picture: Peter Bird

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Two members of the RAF who lost their lives in a wartime tragedy have been remembered in a ceremony which took place shortly after the anniversary of the disaster.

Aero-modeller Tony Nelson with his replica of the De Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber that crashed in North Creake 75 years ago. Picture: Peter BirdAero-modeller Tony Nelson with his replica of the De Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber that crashed in North Creake 75 years ago. Picture: Peter Bird

Flying Officer John Mathias DFC and Flight Lieutenant Thomas Irwin, both aged 23, died when their twin-engine De Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber crashed into the village of North Creake, near Fakenham, 75 years ago on the night of Thursday, April 27, 1944.

The plane, part of the 305 Squadron, had taken off from RAF Lasham in Hampshire but at about 11pm, it suffered a major and catastrophic air-frame failure and crash landed.

The ceremony, which took place on Sunday, April 28, was attended by many residents, members of 42F Squadron King's Lynn Air Cadets and Sedgeford Royal British Legion.

Speaking at the event, parish councillor Philip Lines, who has undertaken research into the crash, said: “The watchers on the ground described an aircraft with navigation lights showing.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force, the late Sir Michael Beetham, watches Michael Cullen, the nephew of Flying Officer John Mathias DFC, lay a wreath at the plaque unveiling back in 2004. Picture: Peter BirdMarshal of the Royal Air Force, the late Sir Michael Beetham, watches Michael Cullen, the nephew of Flying Officer John Mathias DFC, lay a wreath at the plaque unveiling back in 2004. Picture: Peter Bird

“It was seen to enter a dive and after a few seconds the movement of the red and green lights showed it was spinning in an almost vertical descent.”

The plane demolished a wooden bakehouse and because the premises were bordered at the rear by the nearby River Burn and a narrow lane, the RAF built a bridge over the river to enable them to remove the remains of the aircraft, which still exists today.

Previously, a plaque on the wall of resident Jane Faire's garden, the site of the crash, had been unveiled in 2004 by Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham, 60 years after it happened

Marion Robbins, an associate of Tony Nelson, who built a replica of the plane, along with Nigel Morter and Claire Nugent, the owners of North Creake airfield's former control tower, which is now a bed and breakfast, laid wreaths alongside those originally laid in 2004 by a representative of the then active Mosquito Association.

The ceremony concluded with the playing of the Last Post and Reveille.

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