The memorial to the crew of Z8863 (Picture: SAC Kimberley Waterson)
WWII

Tragic Young WW2 Bomber Crew Honoured By Prison Memorial At Crash Site

Prison staff at HMP Whitemoor have built a special memorial to the crew of a Second World War bomber out of reclaimed and unused materials.

The memorial to the crew of Z8863 (Picture: SAC Kimberley Waterson)

Staff at a prison have built a special memorial for the young crew of a Second World War bomber whose crash site now sits in a nature reserve owned by the facility.

On 24 November 1941, a Vickers Wellington bomber (Z8863) of No 115 Squadron from RAF Marham crashed about two miles outside March in Cambridgeshire with the loss of its nine crew.

The military connection to the site was brought to HMP Whitemoor's attention by Andrew Wood, a worker with Government Facility Services Limited (GFSL), which maintains prisons.

Mr Wood and the prison's Senior Site Manager Mark Twiddy created the memorial in their own time using reclaimed and unused materials.

At the time of the crash, the bomber was heading to its home base at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Its crew was made up of entirely of non-commissioned officers – the oldest was only 29.

Pilot, Sergeant George Bruce, was just 20, and his co-pilot, Sergeant Percival Taylor, still a teenager, at 19. 

Squadron Leader Rich Kellett and Flight Lieutenant Ed Berwick of No 115 Squadron, RAF Wittering. (Picture Credit: SAC Kimberley Waterson).​​​​​​​
RAF Wittering personnel attended a service at the memorial earlier this week (Picture: SAC Kimberley Waterson/RAF).

A special service to mark 80 years since the crash was held at the memorial this week, attended by pilots from RAF Wittering as well as prison staff and locals.

Prison Governor Ruth Stephens said that the staff who had created the memorial had done "the people of March and the RAF proud".

"It is a beautiful and fitting memorial, which rightly honours the sacrifice made by the crew of Z8863 and is a welcome addition to the nature reserve that is enjoyed by many visitors from the local area," she said.

The service was led by RAF Wittering's chaplain, Reverend Squadron Leader Andrew Tucker, and was also attended by a delegation from 115 Squadron based at RAF Wittering.

Squadron Leader Rich Kellett, who attended the ceremony, said he was impressed by the "beautiful memorial to the crew of Z8863".

He said: "The people of March have turned out in good numbers to remember the sacrifices made in World War Two, and it was especially fitting that members of the family made their own contributions to the service.

"It was an honour to represent my squadron and the RAF."

No 115 Squadron was formed in 1917, saw action in both world wars, and today it teaches qualified pilots to become instructors.

RAF Wittering Station Commander Jez Case thanked prison staff for the tribute to the fallen crew.

He said: "Remembering the losses of our forebears anchors us in our shared past which helps motivate us in the present."

Cover Image: The memorial to the crew of Z8863 (Picture: SAC Kimberley Waterson)