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Norwich airman remembered in Holland

Reginald James' Memorial.

Reginald James' Memorial.

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A Norwich airman's family have returned to the UK from the Netherlands after attending a memorial event in his honour.

Reginald James died on October 7, 1944, during the second world war when his plane was shot down near Walcheren in the Netherlands.

A memorial stone to Mr James, who was born in Constitution Hill, Norwich, was unveiled on the site where his plane crashed, between Zoutelande and Westkapelle, earlier this month, and 15 members of his family attended the event.

The family also presented a small book to the people of Holland on the trip, detailing Mr James’ life with words and pictures.

Mr James’ niece, Jill Taylor, from Salhouse, said: “The day of the unveiling ceremony began with a quiet visit by the family to Reg’s grave where we paid our respects and laid a poppy wreath.

“The memorial is set in a small, secluded copse and a great number of people had gathered there before us, including a representative from the British Embassy, an envoy from the Dutch Royal Family, and a large crowd of local people.

“When the memorial was unveiled by the representative from the British Embassy, it took everyone’s breath away. It is simple in design, yet magnificent, with a black, marble column on each side and a reclaimed propeller in the centre.

“The wording on one column is in Dutch and on the other in English. It is a fitting tribute not only to Reg, to whom it is dedicated, but also to all his comrades who fell in Walcheren during the war.”

She said that wreaths were then laid by the memorial, including one from the young Dutchmen, Han and Matthieu, who had found the remains of Mr James’ plane and were responsible for the memorial being erected.

She added: “Reg’s nephew, Bob James, gave a very heartfelt word of thanks on behalf of the family and the ceremony ended with a flypast by a small plane of the same vintage as the Airspeed Oxford in which Reg was shot down.

“It was a wonderful day, tinged with sadness, but evoking great pride, and the whole occasion has left a huge impression on us all. We will never forget that day.”

Do you know anyone who is in line for an honour? Call Evening News reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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