On this day we remembered the crew members that lost their lives when Halifax MZ920 (WL-C) of No 434 Squadron RCAF crashed outside the village of Dunchurch on the night of 14 October 1944 before it could reach the runway of the airfield at Church Lawford, to the west of Rugby in Warwickshire. The aircraft had suffered an engine problem that culminated in a major fire that ultimately caused the crash.
The crew are listed below and those names that are shown in black bailed out of the aircraft prior to it crashing and survived. Their squadron motto was "In Excelcis Vincimus" which translates to "We Conquer the Heights" and they had already completed a mission earlier in the day and on this, their second mission, they never crossed the North Sea as the engine problem on take-off before they could form up with other aircraft to jointly deliver their "message" to the enemy.
This year's Remembrance Service at St. Peter's, Dunchurch Parish Church was special for two reasons, the first of which being the first reading out of the names of MZ920's crew that perished after the names of the local soldiers, sailors and airmen that gave their lives for our freedom had been read out.
The second reason was that a new memorial plague has been hung within the walls of St. Peter's.
Currently the plaque resides in the church on an unofficial basis due to Church Planning Rules that require the diocese to approve anything that is displayed on a permanent basis. The approval process has started and is supported by the Vicar, the Church Warden and the Arch Deacon so will come through in due course. Once permission has been granted the plaque will be dedicated and blessed during a special service.
The story behind the plaque started a few weeks ago when Roger Higgerson called me to discuss this idea of having a plaque made up to complement the memorial stone that stands on the Heath along Rugby Road in Dunchurch. Roger had already been in touch with the Church Warden of St. Peter's and had got the green light so now he wanted to know what to write on the plaque. The resulting text can be seen in the picture below and the people at Timpson's, the company that produced the plaque, sourced the Halifax image that has been delicately engraved on the brass plate.
The plague is shown below.
|The brass plaque is so shiny it can only be photographed at an angle.|
|Roger Higgerson (left) and David George (right) hold up the new memorial plaque. Spot the black cat.|
|Rugby Aviation Group Chairmen past and present, David George, Barry Jones and me|
|David George and Roger Higgerson|
|David George proudly lays the wreath for the first time in years|
|Good to see David George attending the Remembrance ceremony|
|David George brought five crosses each with the name of a crew member|
|My privilege to place the crosses around the wreath.|
|Watched by all, the crosses are firmly pressed into the ground|
|The wreath laid and the crosses planted and with this the MZ920 crew honoured|
|Close-up of the wreath and crosses, some of the latter showing the names|