Sunday 29th April 2007 saw a plaque dedication and memorial service being held at Thorp Arch Church, near Wetherby, for two Church Fenton based airmen who lost their lives as a result of enemy action in April 1941.
On the night of 24th April 1941, Sergeant Frederick Charles Crozier and Flight Sergeant George Bell were flying Boulton-Paul Defiant N1568 of Church Fenton based 54 OTU, the RAF’s first night-fighter training unit. The airfield came under attack from German aircraft, and as usual a warning was given to all aircraft to extinguish their nav’ lights and orbit a beacon until the intruders had left the area. Unfortunately, for an unknown reason, the aircrew did not heed this warning, and their aircraft was engaged at 1000ft by a Ju88 piloted by a Leutnant Pfeiffer. Flt Sgt Bell, the turret gunner, returned fire, whilst Sgt Crozier took violent evasive action. Unfortunately, as both aircraft were flying at virtually zero feet, the Defiant struck a tree near Thorp Arch village, crashed and came to rest near Thorp Arch Church. Both aircrew were tragically killed
A couple of years ago, Sgt Crozier’s brother, David Crozier, began investigating the circumstances of his brother’s untimely death. The result of his (and others’) in-depth investigations, was a full “dossier” on his brother’s wartime RAF service, including such historically important items as the letter written by the Church Fenton station commander to Frederick and David’s parents notifying them of the crash. David also managed to trace Flt Sgt Bell’s relatives, and on Sunday 29th April 2007, the two families came together at Thorp Arch Church, only yards from the crash site, to hold a service of rememberance and dedicate a plaque to their relatives’ memories.
The Church service was very well attended, so much so that it was standing room only. Fittingly, Church Fenton’s own 2434 Squadron Air Training Corps also provided a guard of honour at the service.