Once again this year a moving tribute was paid to mark the anniversary of an incident which took place 75 years ago.

A service was held to commemorate the crew of a Lancaster bomber which crashed in Colchester and was the result of eighteen months of research and teamwork between people living in Britain and Canada.

The event was also a rare chance to view these images taken of the crash site at the time.

In 1944 the crew were moments from landing at nearby Boxted airfield when they crashed near to what is now Safestore, explains Chris Stanfield who is one of those who initially helped get the memorial put in place in 2013.

He explains the idea to forever mark the event came about from regular chats with like-minded friends including Roy Tolhurst, known to all as Lofty.

Also a regular at the meetings was David Seaborn – who had witnessed the crash as a teenager.

Lofty takes up the story: “He described how on that morning he was awoken by the noise of the aircraft and how he saw it fly above the main road in Great Horkesley where his house is situated.

“The aircraft, he recalled, was burning from the left side wing tanks and the flame extended along the fuselage to the tail plane and beyond.

“It was flying very low and slowly began to bank towards the airfield.

“As David described this he used his hand to illustrate how the Lancaster gradually banked left away from the area.

“The story was so moving and we wondered why there was nothing near the location recording what had happened.”

And so the idea for a memorial began.

Lofty explains this year’s ceremony was particularly moving as it was the first without David, who sadly died earlier this year.

Michael Heath, who was 12 at the time of the crash, also helped with the research.

He says : “I was one of the few people that saw the Lancaster as it flew over early on that April morning.

“We went up a few hours later and saw the wreckage.

“I didn’t see it come down but I knew it was going to because we witnessed this ball of fire and followed it as far as we could, that was as much as we saw of it.”

Chris says he had an idea when he began the research that the former Betts factory opposite the memorial site would one day be developed into housing.

“So as early as 2011 I made contact with Colchester Council enquiring if we could have roads named after the seven airmen.

“They were quite supportive but said I had to wait until the land was sold.”

A number of Colchester Civic Society members, including Henry Spyvee and Vic Lewis supported the idea along with Sir Bob Russell and later Paul Smith, who was leader of Colchester Council at that time, who favoured a silhouette of a Lancaster bomber over the Lancaster Approach road sign.

This was unveiled in 2016 by Sir Bob Russell and Peter Potter, an Air Gunner who served on Lancaster bombers in the same squadron, 626, as the lost crew who crashed at Severalls.

Lofty explains: “He was stationed at RAF Wickenby after the April 1944 crash and so sees himself as a replacement.

“He survived over 30 operations.” Chris says the memorial was very much a joint venture with many people playing their part in some way or another.

“We’re all interested in the First and Second World Wars, for that matter, and many of us had relatives involved with the wars.”

These include Sean Kelly and Paul Rickwood.

As part of the painstaking research they discovered more about the crew of the Lancaster, four British men and three Canadian.

They had set off the previous night from RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire, on a bombing mission and were on their way back when they were attacked near to Diss in Norfolk.

It is thought the tail gunner, Ernest Fancy, was killed in this attack and the plane later headed for Boxted but missed it by seconds, crashing at Severalls.

Chris says some people believe the plane may actually have been attacked over Colchester, however, not Diss.

The entire crew perished including Murray McPherson, James Mayger, Francis Gunn, John Shell, Dennis Randle, Robert Cameron, and Ernest Fancy As many relatives as possible here and in Canada were contacted as part of the research while Canadian Air Force historian Nancy MacFarlane, David Smith, and local man Simon Gallup, helped Chris with information.