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Survivors fall silent in poignant tribute

Photo: David Hurst
Service held in Holy Trinity CC Church grounds to commemoratethe 70th anniversary of the Freckleton Air Disaster
Crowds show their respects after the service

Photo: David Hurst Service held in Holy Trinity CC Church grounds to commemoratethe 70th anniversary of the Freckleton Air Disaster Crowds show their respects after the service

Heads bowed in solemn remembrance, they gathered to commemorate the day which claimed scores of young lives.

Survivors, relatives and villagers marked the 70th anniversary of the Freckleton air disaster, which left 61 people dead.

Hundreds attended a service in the church yard of Holy Trinity C E church, on Lytham Road, to remember the tragedy which took place nearby.

Villagers observed a two-minute silence following the playing of the Last Post.

The disaster happened when a US Air Force B-24 bomber crashed after take off from nearby Warton Aerodrome during a violent storm on 23 August 1944.

Part of the craft crashed on Holy Trinity Primary School, killing 38 children.

Cousins Una Higgins, 76, and Greta Thorne, 77, were among the survivors that fateful day - although Greta’s brother Peter sadly died.

Recalling the events of seven decades ago, Una, from Clifton Place, Freckleton, said: “Hail was sheeting down and all I can remember was the windows coming in.

“There were American servicemen throwing us over the church wall to get us to safety. I told my mum a bomb had dropped on the school because that’s what I thought had happened.”

She added: “It was a lovely service and I didn’t realise there’d be so many people here.”

Margaret Porter, 78, from Great Eccleston, lost her brother Kenneth Boocock in the tragedy.

She said: “I just remember the explosion and all the smoke and flames.

“The next thing I knew I found myself in the church yard.

“I was trapped in there because there was a gate so I went over the wall. It’s devastating to me because I forgot to pick my brother up and bring him home. Everything happened so fast.”

Saturday’s service saw wreaths laid at a memorial in the church yard by local schoolchildren, while representatives from the United States Air Force were also present.

First Lieutenant John Bloemendal was among those who died in the tragedy.

First Lt Bloemendal had been stationed at Warton with his brother Ernest during the Second World War.

Ernest’s grandson Charles Bloemendal, 29, travelled from the American state of Minnesota to attend the ceremony, having previously visited the site last year.

He said: “I’m very touched by everybody that shows up year after year. It really means a lot that everyone comes and still remembers.It affected my grandpa and he could never truly forget any feelings no matter how much time passed.

“He certainly loved his brother and was proud of everything he’d done.

“That left a lasting impression on everybody in the family and a connection with us to the people of Freckleton.”

 

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