Calls to honour Skegby airman

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A DUTCH historian is asking for help as he researches a Second World War plane crash which cost the life of a Skegby airman.

Gerald Hadfield was one of seven crew members killed when their Halifax V aircraft was intercepted and set on fire by a German night fighter on 17th June 1944.

Relatively little is known about Airgunner Hadfield, who was just 21 when he died in the skies above the town of Buren in the Netherlands.

But now a resident of the town, Richard van de Velde, is investigating the incident and looking for more information about him and his crew mates.

Richard said: “The main thing I want to do is to let people know the purpose of these young men, who were ready to die for our and their freedom. We must never forget that.”

It is already known that Airgunner Hadfield was born in 1923 and lived at 1 Leyton Avenue in Skegby.

He was the son of George and Jane Hadfield, brother to George and John and had only married his wife Mavis six months before the crash, in December 1943.

Richard has contacted Ashfield District Council and local historian Lynne Weston to aid his investigation.

Lynne said: “The Dutch have always been very appreciative of the efforts made by the Allied forces to liberate their country and still remember them and their actions with great affection.”

The Halifax V was flying with 102 Squadron when it was involved in the crash, exploding after being set on fire by the German aircraft.

Richard is hoping to publish an article in his local newspaper in Holland about the lives lost in the crash so the crew are not forgotten.

He is also hoping a plaque could be placed in Skegby to remember Gerald.

Both he and Lynne would like to hear from anyone who has information or photographs of Gerald or any pictures of Mavis Hadfield’s family.

l If you can help, contact Lynne on Mansfield 558840 or Richard by emailing r.velde@hetnet.nl.

Visit Richard’s website for more information about the crash at www.oorlogsslachtoffersgemeenteburen.nl/gesn._geallieerde_militairen/crash_halifax_Buren.htm