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Crew of a WWII American plane that crashed in Penn honoured on the 75th anniversary of their deaths

| November 18, 2019
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Cllr Brian Roberts presents the scrolls to David Huntley, Andrea Kempner-Blake and Janice Kempner-Morgan. (Image supplied by Buckinghamshire County Council)

The crew of an American WWII warplane were honoured on the 75th anniversary of their deaths.

On the morning of Saturday 12th August 1944, a Boeing B17-G Flying Fortress ‘Tomahawk Warrior’ was on its 25th mission to France. The plane, which was carrying a full bond load, was spotted with two engines on fire flying over a built-up area of High Wycombe.

Pilot and captain Charles Searl desperately sought out an area of open land away from the densely populated area as there would have been massive loss of life if the plane crashed there.

Searl managed to steer the plane away from the residential area of High Wycombe, narrowly missing the Lude Farm farmhouse in Penn and crashed in the open fields beyond. All nine crew were killed instantly but there were no casualties on the ground.

County Council Chairman Brian Roberts paid special tribute to the crew of the WWII American warplane who sacrificed their lives in a deliberate move to avoid crashing into a residential area of High Wycombe and potentially killing hundreds of civilians on the ground.

At a ceremony held at Penn House on Remembrance Sunday 10th November 2019, The Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council, Brian Roberts, paid special tribute to the aircrew. Cllr Roberts presented three ceremonial scrolls, one to the nieces of one of the fallen crew, one to Penn Parish Council and one to David Huntley, who personally witnessed the incident and was the inspiration behind the ceremony.

Brian Roberts said: ‘We are here today to pay tribute on behalf of the residents of Buckinghamshire and to give our heartfelt thanks to the crew of the Tomahawk Warrior who all lost their lives when their B17 Flying Fortress crashed at Lude Farm in August 1944.

Their actions, which ended so tragically for them, ensured that many more lives were not lost. As a result of their ultimate sacrifice in finding a safe place to crash, the nine young crew are remembered in the history of Penn forever.

Cllr Roberts expressed his regrets that it has taken the County Council so long to formally recognise the bravery of the soldiers involved: ‘Belatedly, on behalf of Sir Leonard Henry West who served as Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council from 1921 to 1947, it now gives me enormous pride to carry out this presentation and for the surviving families of the air crew to accept these ceremonial scrolls to acknowledge our gratitude.

One of the scrolls will be permanently displayed as a memorial at the Holy Trinity Church in Penn. The names of the nine crew are read out at every Remembrance Sunday service at the church in Penn.

*Source of article : Buckinghamshire County Council.

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