A MEMORIAL to lost Second World War scientists and airmen, including radar pioneer Alan Blumein, was unveiled in a deeply moving ceremony in the Herefordshire countryside.

There were tears of pride and sorrow among the crowd of about 70 onlookers as a Union flag was lifted from a column of Forest of Dean stone bearing the names of the 11 men killed in the wartime aeroplane crash.

Blumlein's sons, Simon and David, along with Mike Phillips, son of the plane's co-pilot, shared the honours of unveiling the memorial, which was largely funded by Hereford Times readers.

They had responded magnificently to our campaign to honour a relatively unsung company of men who perished on Herefordshire soil. More than £5,000 was contributed to our appeal in a little over two months.

The ceremony yesterday (Sunday) was held at a breathtakingly beautiful spot on the banks of the river Wye in Welsh Bicknor on the 77th anniversary of the crash.

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The memorial stands at a public footpath. From there, walkers can see the wooded ridge near Rosemary Topping over which the stricken plane flew, its engine ablaze.

Also visible is the slight depression in the hillside below an ancient oak tree which marks the crash site.

Simon Blumlein said his mother Doreen had visited the spotted in the 1980s and had remarked: “If you have to die, this is a beautiful place.”

Her words are reproduced on the memorial marking her husband's death.

Gazing at his mother's words, Mr Blumlein said: "I want to thank readers of the Hereford Times for all their contributions to this memorial."

Forensic scientist Dave Scaysbrook, who is an expert on the history of the crash, said: "These young men did not only fight fascism, but were progressing the cause of science. They deserve to be remembered."

In a particularly emotional part of the ceremony, Mr Phillips read out the letter his widowed mother received from the Government on her husband's death, urging her to take solace from his contribution to the war effort.

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He also said his father had kept a photograph of the 22 young men with whom he had trained in the RAF. As each was killed in service he had placed a cross on the picture. At the time of his death only he and one other remained without a cross.

Mr Phillips said: "Today means everything to me. My mother was two months pregnant with me when my father died, so I never met him. But he was always in my heart."

After blessing the memorial, Simon Tarlton, the assistant curate of St Mary, Ross-on-Wye, gave a blessing, and read out the names of the dead.

Barrie Goode and John Strong from the Manu Forti Buglers then played the Last Post, their notes echoing hauntingly down the Wye valley.

Blumlein, who was key to the development of stereo sound before the war – along with the Telecommunications Research Establishment in Malvern and two EMI colleagues – made a contribution to radar technology that was key to the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany.

He had been in a Halifax bomber that had been converted into a flying laboratory for tests on top-secret radar technology called H2S. It had taken off from RAF Defford, near Pershore, on June 7, 1942, but during the flight had caught fire at 15,000ft and plunged to earth.

Blumlein’s immense contribution to the war effort was hushed up after his death on the orders of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

He perhaps felt the loss of such an important scientist would give succour to the Nazis as they plotted their conquest of Europe because they know of his work.

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So while the contributions of other Second World War boffins such as Alan Turing – who helped crack the Nazis’ Enigma code – and Sir Bernard Lovell, the H2S radar project leader, have been lauded, Blumlein’s role has been largely overlooked.

The Hereford Times appealed to readers to help us correct this injustice and pay tribute to his memory, and the others who died with him. Our appeal was spearheaded by Garth Lawson, the paper’s walks writer, who has long believed a tribute to Blumlein was overdue.

Also present at the ceremony was Judy Spence, daughter of Sir Bernard Lovell, who helped develop radar technology with Blumlein during the war, as well as Jerome Vaughan, of the Courtfield estate, who generously allowed the memorial to be placed on his land.

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