Apensioner who has regularly tended a World War Two memorial honouring 10 airmen who died in a plane crash 75 years ago will see it be honoured with a military fly past next month.
Tony Foulds, 82, was just eight-years-old when he witnessed the American B-17 Flying Fortress crash into Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, on February 22 1944.
The plane was supposed to be dropping a 4,000 lb bomb on a Luftwaffe air station in Aalborg, Denmark, but it was ambushed by German fighters over the North Sea and was heavily damaged.
It was attempting to return to its base in Northamptonshire when it ended up off course over the skies of Sheffield before crashing.
Mr Foulds was one of a group of school children who were playing in Endcliffe Park when the plane come down. He said he felt responsible for the airmen’s deaths because the plane was trying to avoid crashing into them.
Since a memorial was erected in the 1970s, the pensioner has regularly kept the plants watered and the area clean to remember the men who lost their lives.
A huge social media campaign was launched after he appeared on BBC Breakfast in early January thanks to an invite from presenter Dan Walker, who discovered Mr Foulds while walking his dog in Endcliffe Park.
After Mr Fould’s told him that it was his dream to see a military flypast at the park to pay tribute to the airmen, the presenter launched a Twitter campaign, telling users: “He doesn’t want a medal. All he wants is a fly-past on the 75th anniversary on the 22nd Feb 2019. Can anyone help?”.
On Tuesday, Mr Foulds broke down in tears as Colonel Will Marshall of RAF Lakenheath, which houses a US Air Force unit and personnel, told him live on BBC Breakfast: “It gives me great pleasure to say: Look to the skies on February 22 for a very special flyby.”
Previously speaking about why he cares for the Sheffield memorial, Mr Foulds spoke about his guilt over the airmen’s deaths.
He said: “I can remember it clearly to this day. Me and a few mates had a problem with a few other lads from a neighbouring school and we arranged to meet in the park basically to have a fight.
“When we got there we saw the plane circling above the park. The airmen were waving at us, but being young boys we just thought they were waving being friendly. We were only eight.
“But it was them saying ‘get out of the way’. When we didn’t realise he tried to take off again, he tried to rev off. The next thing that happened it went over the trees and there was a huge explosion. Straight into the ground.”
Crews will set off in an F-15 fighter jet from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, home to the largest US Air Force camp in the UK, on February 22. US and UK aircraft including Ospreys, Typhoons and a Dakota will also take part.
The US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, said: “It takes amazing people to have an amazing moment.
“I am so happy you did this because now, millions of people know about these 10 men, and all the other men that died on that day too.”
|Date:||Friday 22nd February 2019|
|Location:||FLY PAST OVER SHEFFIELD, Sheffield|