A Second World War bomber has made a poignant flight over Colney Heath, 80 years on from when an aircraft crash in the village killed seven men.

On Saturday, a low-flying Avro Lancaster roared over the countryside, with the noise and sight of the four-engine aircraft leaving many residents stunned.

One wrote on Facebook: "I was driving through how wood as it flew over. Amazing to see and hear."

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"Wow, it must have been terrifying, hearing them, on mass, flying overhead," wrote another.

The aircraft had been performing a flypast at Langer Airfield in Nottinghamshire, as part of a tribute to the crew of Lancaster W4938, who lost their lives on May 23, 1943 while flying over Germany.

Lancaster fact file

  • Designed by Avro - who also created the beloved Vulcan - the Lancaster first flew in 1941, and entered RAF service in 1942
  • 7,377 Lancasters were built in total
  • The aircraft was used in the famous Dambusters mission, destorying two German dams using Barnes Wallis' "bouncing bomb"

Colney Heath crash

The bomber's appearance in the skies over Colney Heath was also a poignant one, with seven men losing their lives when their Lancaster crashed in the village almost 80 years ago.

On the night of October 22, 1943, Lancaster 7575 was on a training mission from RAF Wigsley in Lincolnshire when the aircraft began to disintegrated in the air and crashed in a field close to Warren House Farm, narrowly missing buildings

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All seven crew members lost their lives:

  • P/O Ewan Moore Taylor
  • Sgt Albert Rooks
  • F/O Eric Williams
  • Sgt John Fisher Thwaite
  • Sgt Henry Thomas Green
  • Sgt Edward Percy Stock
  • F/Sgt George Bruce Davies

The cause of the crash that night is still unknown, with the official report claiming structural failure caused the aircraft to crash, while others believe a friendly fire incident was to blame.

The Avro Lancaster that flew over Colney Heath on Saturday is also a unique one, being the only airworthy example of the aircraft in the UK, and is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.