The main speech made at the dedication ceremony, by a local Belgium dignitary who all too vividly remembered the horrors of the war, contained the following very moving passages:
“At 20 past one in the starlit early hours of Tuesday, 29th June, 1943, in this place, impressive in its wildness, a Lancaster bomber crashed, carrying with it to their deaths the entire crew […]It is not necessary for me to give you the whole story as told by those villagers of Sart who discovered the wreckage. I must, however, tell you that F/Lt Seward’s wife, who was serving in the RAF, said good-bye to her husband only [2 hours and] 30 minutes before the crash.
You (airmen) took off from your not far-distant island, together with hundreds more of your comrades, to come and destroy the offensive might of a powerful and cruel foe, who, for three long years, had held in subjection Belgium, and the whole of Western Europe. But, also on that fateful night, 29th June 1943, your fine aircraft was forced out of that cloud of bombers sweeping towards their appointed targets, by a frightful explosion; its scattered wreckage fell in this place where we are now gathered together. All the inhabitants of the commune will remember that tragic night. Long before it was over, the crash of your aircraft was revenged by one of those mighty bombardments which time and time again turned the industrial Ruhr into a veritable inferno. We stood, as we had stood before, at our windows, scanning the blazing horizon, tasting to the full the joy of seeing the enemy paying a hundredfold for the sufferings he had inflicted on our beloved country. And soon the steady roar of engines was heard again, as the aircraft, relieved of their loads, returned at speed to their bases.
But you, our gallant friends, were unhappily not permitted on that night to savour the joys of a triumphant return home, your dangerous job well done. You had fallen on friendly soil. From sunrise on that first day and for many days thereafter this sad spot was thronged with sorrowing people who had come to pay their tribute to you, our friends and our defenders.The dark shadow of these woods, where death had stalked, served but to inflame anew our hatred of the enemy, who, before such a show of sympathy with you, fliers of an ally, was rendered powerless. We all know that many people from the commune of Sart have jealously preserved, as keepsakes, small pieces of your Lancaster, lasting evidence of that struggle which was pursued so relentlessly and which was bound to lead to eventual total victory …”
FROM THE ORB 28.6.43 Some beam flying and tests during morning. 14 aircraft detailed for ops. 1 aircraft abandoned mission – Sgt Montgomery – CS Unit of port outer u/s. Target was Cologne. Mainly 10/10ths cloud and bombing was carried out by means of sky markers. Glow of fires seen through cloud. 1 aircraft failed to return – F/L Seward – no news received since aircraft left base.
LM323U F/L F.P.Seward, Sgt B.E.Lewis, F/L E.Sanderson, F/O E.E.Lawton, F/Sgt K.I.Smith, Sgts A.Monaghan, M.D.Horner. 1 x 4000lb 12 SBC. Up 2251. Aircraft and crew missing.
Extract from Bomber Command Losses – 28/29.6.43
Lancaster III LM323 OF – U. Op Cologne. T/O 2251 Bourn. Shot down by a night fighter (Lt Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, II/NJG1) crashing 0130 at Solwaster (Liege) and on the western side of the Hautes Fagnes 12km SE of Verviers. Taken first to St-Truiden, their graves are now in Heverlee War Cemetery.
F/L F.P.Seward(+), Sgt B.E.Lewis(+), F/O E.Sanderson(+), F/O E.E.Lawton(+), F/S K.I.Smith(+),Sgt A.Monaghan(+), Sgt M.D.Horner(+).