Honours paid to wartime hero

IT started with a Ludham-based pilot losing his life over the fields of Holland, and, on Monday honours were paid to the hero from the second world war.

IT started with a Ludham-based pilot losing his life over the fields of Holland, and, on Monday honours were paid to the hero from the second world war.

The Spitfire of Jack Dawson Green, one of the famous 603 Squadron, was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the village of Heinenoord while on a mission to stop V2 rockets being launched against England. The 21-year-old died instantly and his plane spiralled to the ground.

Jack Green had joined the RAF after coming to England in 1944, having had training in his homeland of Australia.

And for one man who witnessed the crash as a four-year-old in March 1945, a life-long passion to find out more about the man who died to protect his freedom had finally come to a close.

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Anton De Man, 59, was instrumental in efforts to organise the service, which was held near the village and attended by more than 100 people, including high-ranking army officials, a mayor and an ambassador.

Also present was Joyce Morgan Green, the 90-year-old sister of Jack Green, and her daughter.

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Mr De Man spoke of the high emotion felt by all on the day, and the importance of such a ceremony.

He said: “I was looking very many years for this pilot and there was a sense of completion on the day.”

Starting off at 1pm with a service in the nearby town hall, those paying their respects then moved on to the road where the pilot's plane crashed. Freshly resurfaced for the occasion, everyone gathered on the road next to a new road sign which bears the name Jack Dawson Green pad, and which was installed

by local schoolchildren.

For Mr De Man, who first discovered the pilot's grave near the site of the crash last year and has contributed to a book on the 603 squadron, said the presence of school youngsters at the ceremony was significant.

He said: “I'm glad so many came from the schools, because it is important they remember what happened. It is important they realise people who gave their lives at the time gave their lives so they can enjoy the things they do now, whether it's the mobile phone in their hand or the computer in their bedroom.”

Afterwards, the group made its way to a black marble memorial donated by local stonemasons, where wreaths were laid - and later attended a reception at a local town hall.

Mr De Man said he now planned on making a DVD of the occasion to give to schools and others, and hoped to visit Ludham airfield himself some time soon to see where Jack Green's final flight began.

“He came to fight for our freedom, and we must remember this so it doesn't happen again.”

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