Anniversary service for Sibsey Lancaster crash victims

Photo: Crown Copyright
Photo: Crown Copyright

A special service has been held to mark the 70th anniversary of the day an RAF Lancaster Crew perished in Sibsey.

Personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Waddington joined dignitaries, veterans, and members of the public in a service at the Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby.

The memorial marked the loss of Lancaster ED503 of No 9 Squadron, which crashed at Sibsey on January 29, 1943.

The aircraft was on a training operation, and all six of the crew lost their lives.

The rescue services at the time only recovered the body of one man. A memorial now marks the spot where the aircraft crashed, and where the remaining crew still lie.

Sqn Ldr Duncan Mason, Officer Commanding RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, read the poem ‘High Flight’ during the service.

He said afterwards: “I was delighted to represent RAF Coningsby at this event. For me, as a pilot, and particularly as OC of the RAF BBMF; where our daily task is one of remembrance, the reading of ‘High Flight’ was particularly poignant.”

Group Captain Al Gillespie, Station Commander at RAF Waddington, the home base for the Lancaster crew, represented his station at the service. The Reverend (Wing Commander) Mike Elliott from RAF Coningsby and and Officer Commanding Personnel Management Squadron, Squadron Leader Darren Godwin also attended.

The poem read at the service was written by Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee who was a member of No 412 squadron, RCAF

Plt Off Magee was killed at the age of 19 on December 11, 1941 and his poem has become a lasting mantra to all pilots.