99 year old Jim Flint, the oldest and most decorated surviving RAF war veteran and Bomber Command Pilot, has visited a Nottinghamshire memorial to a RAF crew.
The memorial to the seven airmen who lost their lives in 1943 is erected in the village of Halam, near Southwell, and is one of a number of RAF crash sites that have been recognised by Nottinghamshire County Council through their Local Improvement Scheme.
The aircrew of Lancaster ED823 are remembered near the crash site in School Lane by a large granite boulder – the memorial was unveiled in 2011 with relatives of the crew from Australia, Canada and the UK present at the blessing.
Over the last 8 years the county council has funded the restoration and creation of more than 35 war memorials across Nottinghamshire to the tune of £500,000 with RAF memorials being erected in villages including Staunton, near Newark and Milton near Retford. Projects have also been undertaken with the the Newark Air Museum.
Jim, who flew 56 missions as a Bomber Command pilot, and has been awarded the DSO, the DSC, the George Medal and the AE (Aircraft Efficiency Medal) - which only a handful of pilots received after the war – spoke warmly about the county council’s efforts to remember the war dead.
Jim said: “There was many a mission I flew that I honestly didn’t know if I would return home from. I lost so many dear friends during the Second World War and to have colleagues recognised with these special memorials is a marvellous gesture from the county council.”
Jim received the George Medal for bravery after his plane ditched in the sea near Cromer in Norfolk. His navigator was trapped and he swan back to rescue him, saving his life.
During his RAF career he became a Commanding Officer and one of his airmen became the future Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Beetham.
The county council’s Local Improvement Scheme funded the memorial plaque as well as helping with land clearance, fencing and landscaping as well as an interpretation board detailing facts about the crew and the crash site.
The land were the memorial stands was kindly leased by Sir John Starkey and building materials company Lafarge kindly donated the boulder.
Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Kay Cutts said: “It is men like Jim that we owe such a huge gratitude to and it is an honour to show him the work we have been doing in memory of his former colleagues.
“As a council we are very proud of the memorials we have helped restore and the ones we have created over the years; memorials are very much part of a communities’ heritage and we’ve played our part in restoring them for future generations.”
Also attending were Andrew Paris and Tony Denyer, two local men who campaigned for the crash site to be recognised and who have since set up the Halam Lancaster Memorial Group.