Americans visit in honour of three brave men

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WAR veterans and families travelled thousands of miles to pay their respects to three brave young airmen who died in the Second World War.

Long Marston welcomed the Americans on Saturday to unveil a war memorial to honour the aerial gunners who were killed when their Boeing B24 Liberator crashed moments after take-off on February 19, 1945.

Among the guests were John Howarth, the navigator of the plane, Arthur Brusila and Gordon Caulkins, who were in 36th Bomb Squadron England with the men, and Pam and Stephen Hutton, whose father Iredell was a tailgunner in the squadron.

Ernest Lamson, from Minnesota, was another to make the trip, not only for the new memorial, but also to remember his brother Walter, who was killed when he crashed in Ivinghoe.

Chas Jellis, whose cousin owned the field he crashed in, was driven by his passion for the history of the area to unveil the new memorial.

“We were absolutely over the moon,” he said, and thanked girlfriend Heda Kootz, who helped him to organise the event.

But with the joy of the gathering also came the emotions of remembering what happened.

Sergeant Carl Lindquist, who was 21, and Privates Fred Becker and Howard Haley, who were both 20, took off from Cheddington, but weather conditions and instrument failure caused them to crash in a field in Long Marston moments later.

They perished when the plane caught fire after landing.

Chas described the reaction as a fly-over in a Hawker Hurricane, displayed by Peter Teichman, evoked memories of the young men.

He said: “It just blew us away. Everyone was in tears in the crowd seeing this display in their honour. You are looking at the veterans and it obviously means so much to them that us English folk still think of what they did to defend our country 66 years ago.

“When I was up on the podium doing the speech I was finding it hard to hold back the emotions.

“It is very difficult to start talking about these lads, only in their early 20s, who died fighting for us.”