Moving tribute to WW2 servicemen in Sandhurst

Published: 14 Jan 2014 13:300 comments

A memorial service for men who died in a Second World War plane crash at Sandhurst drew mourners from as far as America.

L-R Donald Skipp, Albert Naisbit and Arthur Truxler.

L-R Donald Skipp, Albert Naisbit and Arthur Truxler.

On January 6, 1944, a Boston BZ387 plane from Squadron 107 was returning from a bombing raid in northern France when it crashed at Eagle House School, Sandhurst.

The four crew – the American pilot Lieutenant Arthur G Truxler, the bomb aimer Pilot Officer Donald H Skipp, air gunner Pilot Officer Albert John Naisbit (both Britons) and the other air gunner, Pilot Officer Brian Alphonsus McConnell, an Australian, all perished when their plane went down with engine failure.

An off-duty airman, who had gone to the scene with two civilians to try to rescue the crew, died after the aircraft blew up. The two others were injured.

Donald Buchanan, a former assistant headteacher at the school, organised the memorial service after years of research.

He said: “I think this is very important. It’s living history, people still remember the actual event.”

Those at the service on Saturday included representatives from the RAF, Sandhurst mayor Cllr Michael Brossard, eye witnesses, relatives of those who died, and past and present Eagle House pupils.

Mr Skipp’s family came forward after Mr Buchanan contacted the local media in the airman’s home town of Hertford.

Mr Skipp’s sister Jane Jenkins, 80, from Chester, who attended the memorial service, said: “I just wish my mother and father were here to see it. They would have been so proud.

“They were so devastated. Donald was a kind, fun-loving young man.

“He taught me how to swim and took me for bike rides.”

Members of the family of

Sidney Millbank, who had

been due to be on the plane but

did not take part in the mission for reasons unknown, came from Boston, USA, to attend the service

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