Unveiling of Memorial Plaque to the Victims of ‘Combined Operations’

More than 100 people gathered at the site of the crash of the B17 at Glen Chass on the anniversary of its final journey for a poignant service of dedication and unveiling of a memorial plaque to those who perished. A number of people walked down to the site, but due to the rough terrain many took the opportunity of being driven to the isolated spot by a tractor and trailer.
Welcomed by the Rev. Shirley Bench, a Methodist Minister based in the south of the Island but originally from the USA, she proceeded with an opening prayer as a strong wind tugged fiercely at the American flag on a bright and sunny, but cold day. This was followed by a short address and a brief outline of the crash history by Professor Lydon and a formal reading of the victims’ names by Assistant Air Attaché to the UK Lt Col. Ahmed of the US Air Force.
It was an emotional moment for the pilot’s sister Joie and her niece Annie Lydon as they unveiled a plaque to the memory of those who died, crafted by local man Richard Kinley, speaking of their gratitude to the Manx people for their support and encouragement in their quest to find out the truth behind the tragedy and arrange a permanent memorial to those who died.
Lt Col. Ahmed then proceeded to lay a wreath at the newly unveiled memorial with closing prayers conducted by the Rev. Shirley Bench followed by the playing of TAPS by members of Rushen Silver Band.
Following the formal presentation everyone was invited for light refreshments at the nearby Howe Methodist Chapel with an opportunity to chat with the pilot’s relatives, look at information and photographs provided by the Manx Aviation Preservation Society and exchange memories with local people who had personal experience of the tragedy.
Valerie Caine
© April 2012