Hatfield Heath air disaster memorial 'a symbol of UK-US unity'
- Credit: Archant
A memorial to three US airmen who lost their lives 77 years ago when their plane crashed in bad weather near Hatfield Heath has been unveiled.
To mark the anniversary on Friday, September 24, Deputy Lieutenant of Essex Rosemary Padfield unveiled a plaque to honour the American fighters who died during the Second World War in 1944.
The three men - pilot Howard H. Noland, 24, flight engineer Jacob E. Crider III, 27, and radio operator Warren E. Terrian, 23 - died when their B-26 Marauder crashed on the way to their base in nearby Matching Green.
The crew were returning to Britain after moving troops to a base near Roye in Somme, France.
The three men are buried in the American Cemetery at Madingley, near Cambridge.
Villagers paid tribute to the men and reflected on how the Second World War shaped Hatfield Heath.
US Air Force major David Nan hailed the unveiling an important sign of unity between the UK and US armed forces.
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Major Nan said: "We are here to honour airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice here 77 years ago.
"These men are not forgotten for the sacrifices they made, and their service to their country.
"It's an amazing experience to see a village honouring these men.
"It is also a sign of unity to see our countries stand together like this. It's an special thing to do, and I think it's fantastic."
Hatfield Heath has a rich Second World War history.
The village was home to Prisoner of War Camp 116. Descendants of prisoners who made their lives in Britain have said that the village plays a "huge part" in their heritage.
Five miles away, London Stansted Airport began life as a military airfield which opened in 1943.
Mark Ratcliff, of Hatfield Regis Local History Society, said it was an "omission" that there was no memorial in the village to remember the crash.
Mark said: "Howard H. Noland, Jacob E. Crider III and Warren E. Terrian gave their lives so that we can have the society we enjoy today.
"It has been an omission that we have not had a memorial before. It's only proper to have one.
"When the plane crashed, there were no casualties on the ground, but it is a big part of the village's collective memory.
"I would like to thank my friend Steve Foster, who I organised this with, and everyone who came along."