Posted: Wed 8th Nov 2023

Broughton built Lancaster Bomber honoured by new commemorative plaque

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 8th, 2023

In a gesture that bridges past and present, John Knowles Funeral Services has unveiled a new commemorative plaque at its Broughton branch, paying homage to the region’s storied aviation history and its connection to the legendary Lancaster bombers of World War II.

The plaque, crafted by Blackwells Stonecraft, now adorns the front of the branch and overlooks the Airbus factory, a site of immense historical significance.

It was here, at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory at Hawarden Airfield, that the Lancaster PA474 was constructed on 31 May 1945, shortly after Victory in Europe Day.

This aircraft is one of only two remaining airworthy Lancasters, serving as a poignant reminder of the 7,377 that were built. Its counterpart continues to soar with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

The timing of the plaque’s unveiling is particularly apt, preceding Remembrance Sunday, a day for reflection and gratitude for the sacrifices made by service personnel in past conflicts.

This occasion allows the community to honour those who served in various capacities, whether on the front lines or in crucial support roles.

Posting on their Facebook page, John Knowles Funeral Services expressed: “We are so thrilled to present this commemorative plaque now situated at the front of our Broughton branch.”

“Overlooking the Airbus factory, many of our clients are captivated by the activities that we, as Broughton residents, often overlook.”

“With the apt timing for Remembrance Sunday, we pay tribute to all, regardless of the roles they fulfilled.”

“We extend our gratitude to Blackwells Stonecraft for their dedication in designing the plaque and their exceptional craftsmanship.”

The Lancaster PA474, spared from combat due to the war’s conclusion in the Far East, has since undertaken a variety of roles, including photographic reconnaissance and appearances in films.

Now under the stewardship of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, it serves as a flying homage to the members of Bomber Command during the Second World War.

The Avro Lancaster, conceived by Roy Chadwick and his team, marked a significant progression from its forerunner, the Manchester bomber. Its superior performance and handling swiftly established it as the RAF’s primary heavy bomber in the war’s final years.

The production and operation of the Lancaster were monumental efforts. At the zenith of its production, over a million individuals were employed across two continents to facilitate its construction and upkeep. The young crews, averaging just 22 years of age, braved formidable odds for survival, with Bomber Command experiencing the highest casualty rate of any British service branch during the conflict.

PA474’s transition from a wartime bomber to a memorial aircraft has been characterised by unwavering commitment and memory. Following diverse roles post-war, including a period as a drone and trials for the Handley Page laminar flow wing, PA474 was reinstated to wartime specifications. It became part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 1973 and has been meticulously preserved by the Duxford-based Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo), ensuring its ongoing role as a living history exhibit.

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