The crew of a Lancaster bomber plane that crashed during the Second World War in Wednesfield have been immortalised on a new housing development. City of Wolverhampton Council’s wholly owned housing development company, WV Living, has named the streets at its development ‘The Marches’, Lakefield Road, Wednesfield, in honour of the crew on the plane that crashed nearby, killing everyone on board.
The roads on the site pay tribute to the memories of Lancaster pilot Bernard Hall, flight engineer Ronald James O’Donnell, navigator Reginald Henry Smith, air bomber Victor Francis Dobell Meade, wireless operator Gordon Leonard Rabbetts and air gunners Vincent Reginald Woodburn and John Alfred Sills. Operating out of East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, the plane came down on the evening of May 17, 1945, nine days after ‘Victory in Europe Day’ or VE Day.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, said: “This is a fitting tribute to those heroes who defended our nation. It is an honour to be able to keep their memory alive at The Marches, ensuring their service and commitment to duty will not be forgotten.”
Ray Fellows, founder of the Wednesfield History Society, said: “With the Lancaster Memorial and now the newly built roads on the Marches Estate being named after the crew of the Lancaster, together they give us a lasting piece of history that will never be forgotten.”
Members of the crewmen’s family, ward councillors and the Wednesfield History Society attended a memorial event at the site. Barry Meade, the son of air bomber Victor Francis Dobell Meade unveiled the street name ‘Victor Meade Drive’ in honour of his late father.
Mark Taylor, Director and Chair of Company Board, said: “WV Living are privileged to be able to play a small part in creating a lasting tribute to these brave crewmen of the Second World War. It’s important to us that we leave a legacy at our developments, and none is more important than this long-lasting memorial to our brave service people.”
The Marches consists of 266 new houses – a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom properties.
WV Living is committed to upgrading neighbourhoods, strengthening local identity, and creating pride in the city. Building energy efficient homes to meet the needs of local communities so residents can live, learn, and work in the city.
Wednesfield History Society was formed by Ray Fellows and Simon Hamilton in 2009. It has been hosting history talks bi-monthly on a variety of topics on Wednesfield’s yesteryears and activity work to capture and preserve the history of Wednesfield Village.