Farnsfield's Halifax Memorial

Farnsfield is a Nottinghamshire village, near to Southwell. From 1937, it had an above ground ROC post (brick built) which was still in existence throughout the life and operation of the adjacent underground post. Unfortunately, both were demolished soon after stand-down, the only relic being a memorial in the hedge constructed from the post step and bearing an appropriate plaque.

However, every Remembrance Day sees a good turn out from former ROC members for Farnsfield’s parade (in recent years we have even outnumbered the Royal British Legion). These members are mainly from the posts at Ashover, Farnsfield and Brassington, together with former officers associated with them, including our former Group Commandant Leslie Mitton. In 2004, we were pleased that the parade salute was taken by Air Commodore Miller, a former ROC Commandant.

As you pass along Farnsfield’s main street, it is easy to miss a small sign labelled “Halifax Memorial”. A short drive down a minor road, then a farm road, takes you to the site. At 2225 hours on 6 July 1944, a Halifax bomber MZ519-LKU based at RAF Burn in Yorkshire was returning from a successful mission to bomb a V1 launching site in Croixdalle France when it developed engine trouble. The pilot (Pilot Officer R Parfitt) managed to avoid the village but crashed outside it at Riddings Farm, all seven crew members being killed. The recovered bodies were laid out in the small paddock in front of the farmhouse before their removal the following day and this left a lasting memory on the farmer and his family. As a memorial seven Nottinghamshire oak trees were planted in a crescent to mark the spot. These were followed later by two Canadian redwood trees in memory of the one Canadian crew member.

In the early 1990’s, two locals (Frank Reynods Jr and Jack Wright) had the idea of a more permanent memorial to mark the 50th Anniversary of the crash. A Committee was formed, funds raised and the memorial as depicted was unveiled in 1994 by Air Marshal Sir John Curtis (who had flown in the same squadron 578). The area behind the original trees has been developed as a small copse, through donations from the villagers and others and the site is well maintained by the Farnsfield Memorial Trust..

At the annual Remembrance Day Service, in addition to a roll call of the villagers who died in the Two World Wars, a special mention is made of the names of the Halifax crew. There is also a memorial in the church which includes photographs of the seven crew members.

Jon Layne (Secretary Ashbourne Section CROCA)

[04mar09 22:45]