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Historical Notes by Michael Forster


During the 2nd World War there were 37 Airfields in Norfolk and over 50 in Lincolnshire. Throughout these six years, over flying of this area was part of daily life.

Unfortunately accidents occurred and many brave airmen lost their lives. Here in Hilgay 7 aircraft crashed resulting in the loss of, (to the best of our knowledge some 57 years later) 14 lives.

Some 18 months ago it was suggested that a memorial plaque was made, listing the names of those who lost their lives. At the time it was known that one aircraft had crashed with the loss of all the crew. On further investigation it transpired that 7 aircraft had crashed in the Parish, the crews of 3 aircraft survived as did 3 members of the crew of the B17. The 4 other crashes resulted in the death of 14 airmen. Plans were then made to unveil a memorial plaque on 18th May 2002 being the 61st anniversary of the crash of the Wellington.

All these men answered the call, coming from different lands, America, Canada and England. One is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves plot in the Churchyard of St Matthew's Sutton Bridge, Two in the Commonwealth War Graves plot in the Marham Churchyard and the 6 crew from the B17 were buried at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery. All the others were buried in their home Towns / Villages.

The memorial was unveiled in Honour and Gratitude to remind us and future generations of the sacrifice made by these men attempting with thousands of others to preserve / regain the Freedom and Peace we in this Country enjoy today. It is also an important Chapter in Village History