Wartime heroes remembered at Upwaltham

Remembering the heroes - Church warden David Tupper (middle) with Sue Kersey and son Stephen at the site of the Lacaster bomber crash at Upwaltham''C120910-2 Mid Plaque  Photo Louise Adams
Remembering the heroes - Church warden David Tupper (middle) with Sue Kersey and son Stephen at the site of the Lacaster bomber crash at Upwaltham''C120910-2 Mid Plaque Photo Louise Adams

A project to remember wartime airmen who died in the hills at Upwaltham, near Petworth, has reached its conclusion 12 years after the first memories were rekindled.

Memorial stones have been unveiled at Littleton Down, above the hamlet’s church, and on the hillside opposite.

They bear plaques carrying the names of the 15 men from four nations who perished when an RAF Lancaster bomber and an American Dakota crashed in 1944 and 1945 on their way back from missions over France.

At the ceremony were Upwaltham churchwardens Sue Kearsey and David Tupper, Steve Kearsey who built the two flint and brick stones, and Nigel James, representing the South Downs National Park Authority which contributed £1,500 towards the £3,500-plus cost of these final tributes.

Mrs Kearsey, who has been instrumental in the project almost from the start, said, for her, the event and a special blessing which will be held on Sunday July 15, were ‘the end of a mission’.

“And it is fabulous we have finished at the same time the memorial to Bomber Command has been unveiled in London,” she added.

The start of the project dates back to 2000, when George Warren and the late Harry Wheeler set out to uncover the story of the crashes.

Encouraged by Mrs Kearsey, it was picked up in 2004 by church council member Dione Venables, who painstakingly drew together the names and personal details of the people involved.

Relatives across the world were traced and, in August 2009, top brass from the four nations’ air forces joined them, and local people, at Upwaltham church for the unveiling of a memorial inside the building.