Memorial flypast in Sheffield

22 February 2019, 07:01 | Updated: 22 February 2019, 13:00

memorial - sheffield flypast

Ten thousand people gathered in Endcliffe park in Sheffield today to see a special flypast, organised to mark 75 years since a crash there.

10 American airmen died when it happened, Tony Foulds there at the time, he was just 8 years old.

Mr Foulds, now 82, has spent decades dedicating himself to the memory of the 10 airmen he never met, spending up to six days a week tending the memorial to them.

Speaking last week, the pensioner said: "I can't put into words how I feel.

"I am going to be in tears all day, there's no doubt about that."

Mr Foulds said he and the other children were in the park 75 years ago because boys from two rival junior schools were fighting.

He said the Mi Amigo approached low from the Nether Edge area of the city in an obviously bad way, with only one engine, and the crew would have seen the large expanse of grass as a possible landing place.

But when the pilot, Lieutenant John Kriegshauser, saw the children, he decided to circle.

Mr Foulds said that when the bomber came round again, the pilot was waving his arms as a warning but, as they did know what he meant, they just waved back.

He said the bomber crashed after it came round for a third time, just missing the roofs of nearby houses.

Mr Foulds said: "Because we were still there, he had to make a decision - 'Shall I land on there and hope I don't hit these kids or try and get over the trees with this one engine?'.

"Of course, he tried to get over the trees. The engine failed and it dropped straight into the ground."

Asked why he devotes his life to the men's memory, Mr Foulds said: "Because they saved my life.

"I wouldn't have been here if it hadn't been for them."

He said: "They're my family."

F-15E Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath; a KC-135 Stratotanker, a MC-130J Commando II and a CV-22 Osprey from RAF Mildenhall, as well as a Typhoon and a Dakota from RAF Coningsby all took part.

Lieutenant Andrew Knighten, the weapons systems officer in one of the F-15E Strike Eagles taking part in the salute said on Wednesday: "It's pretty humbling, honestly, just for everyone that's gone before us and for us to get to fly over and just honour them."

A four-ship of F-15E Strike Eagles flew over Cambridge American Cemetery, where three of the Mi Amigo crew are interred, on the way back to base.