Our brave air crews to be remembered

Basildon Recorder: Last survivor – Richard Andrews, pictured in 1944 talking to Queen Elizabeth, was on-board one of the B-17 Flying Fortresses Last survivor – Richard Andrews, pictured in 1944 talking to Queen Elizabeth, was on-board one of the B-17 Flying Fortresses

A COMMUNITY will join together on Saturday to honour Second World War air crew members who died after a mid-air collision over Canvey Dignitaries from across the globe will gather at St Nicholas Church, Canvey, to remember two flight crews, who collided above the island.

Among those in attendance will be the daughter of the last survivor Richard Andrews, from Washington, in the United States, and a representative from the US Embassy and United States Air Force.

The Rev David Tudor, of St Nicholas Church, Long Road, said: “I think it’s good to pause and remember these people of immense courage and bravery.

“People have made it their life’s work to document this event, its significance is timeless.”

Shortly after 6pm on June 19, 1944, two B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 525th Bomb Squadron collided, killing 11 men.

The squadron was returning from a successful raid on a Nazi V1 rocket site over France.

One of the planes was flying in heavy cloud cover, piloted by Lt. A.J. Ramacitti, and experienced engine troubles.

It was reported the plane gained some altitude, overtaking the formation, before turning into an uncontrollable dive. Lt. Ramacitti’s plane collided with flight 42-97942 just behind the pilot’s compartment, where Lt. L.L. Burns was at the controls.

According to an eyewitness at the time, Mr C.T. Ellison, the collision happened over the Leigh Middle Buoy, east of Canvey Point.

Lt. Ramacitti’s aircraft plunged into a dive, crashing into a mine field in the Thames. Airmen of Lt. Burns’s aircraft managed to bail out before the pilot turned away from the town and ditched in the mud.

In total 11 men died, including both pilots. Seven men managed to parachute to safety The service will begin at 11am on Saturday, at St Nicholas Church, Canvey.

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