SEVEN heroes who died in a wartime bomber crash in Colchester have been remembered at a special ceremony.

Some 71 years to the day after a Lancaster UM-K2 broke up and crashed in Ipswich Road and Wyncolls Road, dozens of people remembered their sacrifice.

A service, led by Derek Webber, a lay preacher from Great Horkesley, was held on Saturday at the memorial, off Ipswich Road.

Organiser Chris Stanfield said: “The crew of Lancaster UM-K2 had been on a bombing operation to Karlsruhe in Germany and were on their homeward journey when they were attacked by a German intruder over Norfolk.

“The bomber was based at RAF Wickenby in Lincolnshire so we can only speculate why it came to Colchester.

“There was an emergency landing base at Woodbridge, in Suffolk, and several other airfields where they could have tried to land at in between.

“When the aircraft was seen over Colchester at 4am, it was on fire on the left side, all engines were working and screaming loudly, but little headway was being made. They were flying at rooftop height.

“At 4.10am, the aircraft went out of control and crashed.

“The tail section ended up just beyond what is now Space Makers Safestore in Ipswich Road and the main crash site was in what is now Wyncolls Road.

“These areas were just fields in 1944.”

The service was opened by Paul Rickwood, one of the group of friends responsible for the memorial. He recited the first verse of a poem written by John Oxenham.

Michael Heath who lived in Colchester at the time of the crash, then laid a bomber command wreath.

Mr Heath was just 12 when his grandmother alerted him and his family to a ball of flames in the sky over their house in Ipswich Road.

They all ran outside to witness it before the plane came down some way away from the house.

No civilians were hurt in the crash.

At the memorial, Peter Potter recited the Ode of Remembrance.

Mr Potter served in the same squadron – 626 Squadron – as the Lancaster crew and completed 30 operations.

Last Post and Reveille were played by Yo Burgess, a member of Boxted Methodist Silver Band and a minute’s silence was observed.