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Crews honoured 70 years after plane crash

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Two RAF crews who died in a training crash over Quainton during the Second World War have been honoured.

Seventy years ago this week two crews of young men who had never been to war were involved in a mid-air collision that cost everyone on board both planes their lives.

One of those 14 men was flying officer Jim Lyon.

Australian Mr Lyon was stationed at RAF Westcott, and lived in Quainton with his pregnant wife Margaret.

The newlywed pilot, together with his crew, who had never seen a day’s action, came down in a field close to Quainton in 1944.

He bravely steered the Wellington plane away from the village and his home, but all seven people on board perished.

Thankfully Margaret was visiting relatives in Scotland and did not witness the dramatic aftermath of the crash – the flames from which would have been visible from her home.

On Saturday a memorial to both crews was unveiled at the former RAF Westcott site.

It was paid for by Squadron Leader Bruce Blanche, a nephew of Mr Lyon who was inspired to join the RAF by his relative’s bravery.

He said: “This is the 70th anniversary of the night that these crews lost their lives.

“In some ways it’s closure, particularly for some families who have never come to terms with what went on that night.

“It is also a tribute to the thousands of others who did the same thing, night in night out.

“They didn’t got to war, but they were all young volunteers and came from the Commonwealth from far and wide to support the war effort, they had a very high casualty rate.”

Around 100 people attended the event and a reception afterwards at the Quainton Memorial Hall.

At the event they had the opportunity see pictures of the crews and learn more about the RAF Westcott operational training unit.

The second crew, who flew from Tuddenham that night were also remembered at the emotional service, which was attended by dignitaries including Mayor of Aylesbury Tom Hunter-Watts, Rev Wing Commander Tony Gilbert, chaplain at RAF Halton and Air Marshal Sir Colin Terry, representing the Lord Lieutenant.

Sir Colin said: “They used to have to fly around pretty much without lights, and collisions happened.

“It’s a huge loss of life to ensure ultimate victory, and I don’t think that people in this country realise how much sacrifice these young people made.”

 

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