Hatfield Heath air disaster memorial 'a symbol of UK-US unity'

Composite image: Insets - People pay tribute to three US airmen who died in Hatfield Heath in 1944; Main - a memorial

A memorial to three US airmen who died in a crash in 1944 has been unveiled in Hatfield Heath - 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.

A folded US flag presented to the people of Hatfield Heath by the USAF Honor Guard

A folded US flag presented to the people of Hatfield Heath by the US Air Force Honor Guard. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Four people - Mark Ratcliff, Rosemary Padfield DL, Major David Nan and Steve Foster - next to a memorial in Hatfield Heath

L-R: Mark Ratcliff, Rosemary Padfield DL, Major David Nan and Steve Foster at the memorial to three US airmen who died in Hatfield Heath. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

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."

A US Air Force Honor Guard member folds a US flag in Hatfield Heath, Essex

A flag folding ceremony performed by the US Air Force Honor Guard. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

A plaque bearing the faces and names of the men who died in a Hatfield Heath crash in 1944

The memorial to Howard H. Noland, Jacob E. Crider III and Warren E. Terrian in Hatfield Heath. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

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.

A wreath which looks like the Royal Air Force (RAF) roundel placed in Hatfield Heath, Essex

Wreaths laid in tribute to three US airmen who died after their plane crashed in Hatfield Heath during the Second World War. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Deputy Lieutenant of Essex Rosemary Padfield with Mark Ratcliff in Hatfield Heath, Essex

Rosemary Padfield DL and Mark Ratcliff at the memorial unveiling in Hatfield Heath. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

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."

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