Wargrave Local History Society

B17F Flying Fortress Memorial Dedication Service and Lunch

November 13th 2014


On November 13th 1943, 71 years ago the B17 "Sunrise Serenader" crashed in the riverside fields of Shiplake and on the Wargrave riverside with the tail falling in what is now Hennerton Golf Club. Nine crewmen died and one managed to parachute to safety.

A memorial to the crew was unveiled at noon on November 13th 2014 at Hennerton Golf Club overlooking the crash site, by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP in the presence of Brig. General Dieter Bareihs, US Defense Attaché. The dedication ceremony was led by the Vicar of Wargrave with Knowl Hill, the Revd. John Cook, and attended by many members of the Royal British Legion local branches, as well as other residents of Wargrave and Shiplake.

The crash had been witnessed by Jim Waldron from Wargrave who was then 14 years old and Mary Burge from Shiplake who was also 14, both of whom assisted with the unveiling of the memorial. Relatives of the crew have visited Jim Waldron many times over the years with the nephew of the pilot and family in Wargrave in June this year.

A part of "Sunrise Serenader" was dragged out of the Thames by fishermen in 2003 and this together with other mementoes including some of the survivor's parachute was on display at the Golf Club on November 13th.

The unveiling of the memorial took place at noon with music provided by the music master and pupils of Shiplake College. A Video of the ceremony was made by members of the College's Media Studies Group, and a copy of this Video can be viewed here.

The idea of a memorial has been mooted for many years and was recently revived by members of the Royal British Legion in Wargrave in consultation with Jim Waldron.

The unveiling ceremony was followed by luncheon at the Golf Club.

Report from the BBC available here. More photographs of the ceremonies will be made available by Tim Hodges and also on the Wargrave News Website

This whole wartime event has been documented by Jim Waldron and Tony Elliott, and articles by them and Jim's map can be read in the September and October editions of the Wargrave News which can be downloaded from the website here:

September Wargrave News - Pages 24 and 25

October Wargrave News - Pages 7 and 17

Any further enquiries about this topic may be addressed to the WLHS Secretary.