Thanks for helping to save crash pilot dad
The son of the only survivor of a wartime Lancaster bomber crash was able to say thank you this weekend to the air raid warden who discovered the wreckage and helped to save his father's life.
The aircraft crashed close to Plungar, in the Vale of Belvoir on March 5, 1943, killing six of its crew and leaving RAF Sergeant Doug Davies as the only survivor.
He was found in a dazed state, with head injuries, by Dennis Kirk, then 23, who helped save his life by taking him to a nearby farmhouse where he was taken to hospital by the RAF.
Sgt Davies' son Barrie Davies, flew from his home in Cyprus to meet Mr Kirk, 92.
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Dr Davies, 67, said: "It has been a very emotional day – it was bound to be.
"We have visited the memorial, the site of the plane crash, the house he was taken to – it was all so interesting, but also emotional.
"I knew my father had been involved in an air crash, during the war, but had never spoken to anyone about it. If any of us asked he would turn his back to us."
Sgt Davies died in 1981 and, in a bid to find out more about his father, Dr Davies began searching online last year and stumbled across a picture of his father in a Leicester Mercury article about villager David Webb, who was tracing the relatives of those who had died in the crash for a memorial dedication service in the village last September.
With Mr Kirk and Mr Webb's help, Dr Davies now knows his father crashed on a return flight to a base in Grimsby, after a mine-laying mission over the French port of St Nazaire, when the Lancaster diverted to try to land at nearby Langar airfield because of poor weather.
Dr Davies said: "I can understand now why my father would not want to talk about it. I think if I had been sitting in a Lancaster for eight hours, through fog and completely freezing, running out of petrol and crash landing and losing all my friends in a split second, I wouldn't feel like talking about it either.
"When they crashed they were just half-a-mile short of the runway, but because of fuel shortages in the war, the planes only carried small amounts of fuel and they didn't make it."
As a farmer, Dennis Kirk was part of the Home Guard and was on overnight air raid warden patrol when he saw the plane carrying Sgt Davies fall from the sky.
Mr Kirk, who lives in nearby Barkestone, said: "I remember that night well. We were on patrol and we heard the plane in the distance as it came down.
"We thought it was on the railway. We went there and found Mr Davies. He must have been thrown out. We saw three other men from the front and one from the rear. They were all dead.
"I was a young man so had never seen a dead body before. It was distressing.
"We had a walk around and we found Mr Davies on the track. We got him off it and asked him if there were any bombs on the plane – he said there wasn't.
"It was half past three in the morning and Mr Davies was dazed so we took him to a farmhouse."
He added: "It has been a lovely day meeting his family – I never knew what happened to Mr Davies."
Dr Davies said the rest of his family now planned to visit Plungar, and he wants to track down the families of other crew members who lost their lives
Dr Davies said: "It has been wonderful meeting Dennis and the other people here.
"I can understand, of course, why Dennis did what he did, but it just warms you. We will be keeping in touch. Dennis is a wonderful man."