Village honours miracle of air crash in which all of the crew survived
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
The memory of nine brave Americans will live on in an Norfolk village.
On August 25, 1944 the Liberator B-24 bomber, the Belle of the East, crashed in Belton, near Great Yarmouth, on its way back from a bombing mission over Germany.
Some of the crew members had to be hauled from the wreckage by villagers, while others had bailed out before the crash.
Remarkably, none of the crew suffered major injuries in the crash, and the dramatic incident has been remembered with a rededication of a plaque at the Tavern Pub, close to the crash site.
Mayor of the borough Adrian Thompson rededicated the plaque at a service on Saturday, April 16, with more than 100 guests basking in the sun enjoying music from the era, reenactments and Second World War vehicles.
Richard Lindsay, from the Belton Historical and District Society who researched the crash, said the rededication will help all residents pay tribute to, and learn about, the brave crew and villagers.
Mr Lindsay, who served in the RAF as an armourer, said: "It has all gone brilliantly, and we had four witnesses to the crash turn up as a complete surprise who we hadn't spoken to before, who were just kids when the bomber landed.
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"It is so important for people to remember this. It's part of our village's history.
"There were probably no more than 1,000 people living here then, and a bomber landing in someone's back garden isn't an everyday thing."
The Belle of the East, named due to the fact that six of her original crew came from the east coast of America, had flown a mission to bomb an aviation museum in Lubeck.
The crash, caused by a fuel problem as the bomber flew back to its base at Rackheath, north of Norwich, saw the plane lose two engines after hitting a tree before ploughing into a ditch and flipping onto its back.
All of the crew carried on the fight against Nazi Germany before returning safely to their homes across the pond.
The incident is also remembered in the village with the naming of a road, The Belle of the East, in 2006.