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Another Day To Remember ....

28th November 2009

an article by Derek Ratledge


group at memorial

left to right: M/Sgt Rick Schlachter USAF,

Rev Will Adams, Paul Stothard,

Sherry Holland Appell, Peter Burns

(parish council chairman),

D.R Todd Donaghue (Sherry's son)

David Brookhouse, Liz Hart (parish clerk),

Derek Ratledge,

Paul Duncombe (parish councillor)



You will all by now know of the events that have unfolded over the last 3 years regarding the B17 bomber airplane crash at Astwell Castle Farm. (if you don't, click here).

On 28th November 2009. Mrs Sherry Holland Appell visited Helmdon almost 66 years to the day when her uncle 1st Lt.William Murray Holland died when the B17 Flying Fortress he was piloting crashed in a field at Astwell Castle farm.  That date was 30th November 1943.

A few weeks previous to this visit, in commemoration of that fatal day, a memorial stone had been unveiled at the site of the village war memorial listing the names of the ten members of the crew who died.


Sherry and husband
      Sherry and Derek Ratledge in the church

Sherry along with her husband Mike and son Todd who live in Live Oak County, Texas, U.S. had intended to attend the annual Helmdon Remembrance day service but could not make arrangements to visit at that time.  They now came as part of a re-arranged holiday in the UK  organised  primarily to make this visit to Helmdon.

Arriving at about 11.30 am Sherry, Mike and Todd  attended a short service of remembrance conducted by the Reverand Will Adams and attended by local councillors  Peter Burns and Paul Duncombe, and   David

sherry at the memorial

Sherry at the memorial

Brookhouse, MS/Rick Schlachter from  the US Air Force Croughton Airbase, also my wife Christine and myself.  A wreath was  laid on the memorial by Sherry, following the service a visit to the church with a resume of its history  given by village historian Jean Spendlove.  At the same time a viewing the wall memorial and plaque was made.   A short journey was made to the crashfield at Astwell Castle farm by Sherry, Mike, Todd, Rick annd myself. While there  Sherry


Sherry at Astwell
      Sherry placing red  roses                    in the middle of the




placed a bouquet of red roses on the site of the crash and a moment of reflection was held.

Returning to village and to the Bell Inn where the landlord had hot drinks (and others) and food waiting - this was very much appreciated by all.

I  would personally like to thank Ms/Sgt Schlachter for his sterling help in the planning  the memorial, also his (Rick’s) help in enabling Sherry and family to travel from their hotel in London and return in the evening as well as organising  an excellent evening meal at The Cartwright Arms, Ayhno.  Thank you Rick.

Thanks must also go to members of  Helmdon parish councill for their original idea for the memorial and help in planning and providing for it.

For me the journey still goes on.  We now have contact with 8 families of descendants of the crew many of whom have vowed  their intentions to visit Helmdon.


Derek Ratledge 

Ed note: Derek's research is now the property of the Helmdon Local History Group.




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