BBC’s Dan Walker in tears as 82-year-old’s dream of Sheffield fly past to honour B-17 Flying Fortress comes true

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BBC Presenter Dan Walker was left in tears after an OAP’s dream of seeing a flypast to commemorate the B-17 Flying Fortress came true earlier today.

Pensioner Tony Foulds broke down in tears as ten airmen who died saving his life 75 years ago by crashing their plane were honoured with the flypast.

Mr Foulds campaigned for the flypast along with BBC presenter Dan Walker
PA:Press Association

Alamy Live News

A Fly past took place earlier today to commemorate the ten men who lost their lives 75 years ago[/caption]

Tony Foulds, 82, was just a boy when he saw the B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo, crash at Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, on February 22 1944.

TONY’S CHANCE ENCOUNTER

Mr Foulds had a chance meeting with BBC’s Dan Walker which prompted a social media campaign to commemorate the men on 75th anniversary of the tragic accident.

The presenter watched the flypast live from Tanzania and tweeted: “Thousands of people expected in Endcliffe Park today for the Mi Amigo flypast. There will be at least 1 more watching from Tanzania too.

The hashtag “#TONYGOTAFLYPAST” was also trending on Twitter.

Speaking from Tanzania, Dan Walker told Mr Foulds: “The last six weeks have been remarkable from my point of view.

“From you and I meeting on a dog walk in the park in the first week of January to me asking how you were – that’s how it all started – you telling me this unbelievable story and saying you’d love a flypast for the 75th anniversary, and here we are now.

From you and I meeting on a dog walk in the park in the first week of January to me asking how you were – that’s how it all started – you telling me this unbelievable story and saying you’d love a flypast for the 75th anniversary, and here we are now.”


BBC Presenter Dan Walker

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“Tony, it’s always been about those 10 men who you think saved your life 75 years ago.”

Mr Foulds responded: “Well I know they saved my life, I didn’t just think it.

“If it hadn’t have been for them, I wouldn’t be here with my family.”

In the days before the flypast, Mr Foulds was also able to meet the families of the airmen that lost their lives as the plane returned from a bombing raid 75 years ago.

refer to caption.

The presenter watched the flypast live from Tanzania and tweeted: ‘Thousands of people expected in Endcliffe Park today for the Mi Amigo flypast. There will be at least 1 more watching from Tanzania too. Hopefully speaking to Tony live later on BBC breakfast Thank you to everyone who has followed this story.’[/caption]

The pensioner described them as “lovely, lovely people”.

He believes that the pilot had deliberately steered away from him and his friends, and has dedicated decades of his life to looking after a memorial to the men at the park.

What happened to the B-17 bomber

The horror crash took place on February 22, 1944 when ten airmen in a US bomber died.

The B-17 was returning from a raid in Denmark when it flew hundreds of miles off course.

The pilot went to land in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, but pulled up when he saw Tony, then eight, and pals playing football. The bomber then crashed into a hill.

 

If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be here with my family.”


Tony Foulds

Earlier today, thousands of people gathered in the park to see Mr Foulds, who has tended to the memorial six days a week and got his son to fill in whenever he has been away, watch the planes, including F-15E Strike Eagles from the USAF and a Typhoon from the RAF, fly over.

Mr Foulds said: “If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be here with my family.”

“It’s more than bravery, what they did.

“They saved me, and I mean saved me.”

The pensioner, broke down in tears after the names of the dead men were read out at the memorial.

In the days before the flypast, Mr Foulds was also able to meet the families of the airmen that lost their lives as the plane returned from a bombing raid 75 years ago.

The pensioner described them as “lovely, lovely people”.

 AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT FOR THE PENSIONER

Overcome by emotion, Mr Foulds wiped away tears as he reacted to the flypast.

He said: “Thank you, I can’t believe all this. This is unbelievable to me.”

A crowd of thousands of people in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, cheered following the flypast on Friday morning.

A clear day meant that the assembled audience had a good view of the planes flying over.

‘A FITTING TRIBUTE’

Wreaths have been laid at the graves of three American airmen who died when their plane crashed over Sheffield in 1944.

Three of the 10 crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress, Mi Amigo, are interred at Cambridge American Cemetery.

The seven other crew members who died have been repatriated.

The headstones of Staff Sergeant Harry W Estabrooks, Sergeant Maurice D Robbins and Sergeant Charles H Tuttle were dressed on Friday with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

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An American and British flag was positioned by each of the three graves, along with a photograph of each crew member.

Wreaths were laid at each grave simultaneously as a memorial flypast soared over Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.

The ceremony was attended by local Royal British Legion members, who had the wreaths specially made after they were contacted by a branch in Sheffield.

Kevin Swann, secretary of the Sawston and Pampisford branch in Cambridgeshire, said: “It’s a fitting tribute to the men but it’s also paid tribute to all who lost their lives and are buried on this site, and to the 1.6 million American service personnel that were over in this country during the Second World War.”


Mr Foulds waved as the planes started to fly over, making his dream come true some 75 years after the crash.

Shortly before the flypast started, he said: “This is not for me, it’s for them – my lads.

“They’re family, they are family to me.”

As the fly past took place Mr Foulds waved at the planes fulfilling a life-long dream
PA:Press Association
Thousands of people gathered in Sheffield to watch the flypast
Alamy Live News
Pensioner Tony Foulds is finally able watch flypast tribute to ten airmen 75 years after witnessing crash that killed them.
SWNS:South West News Service
Two RAF Typhoon FGR4 jets during the flypast over Sheffield Endcliffe park
PA:Press Association
Tony Foulds was overcome with emotion as he finally got to witness the flypast
SWNS:South West News Service
The OAP has spent much of his life treating a memorial dedicated to the airmen
PA:Press Association
Tony has maintained the memorial dedicated to the airmen
PA:Press Association/PA Images
Tony Foulds with BBC Breakfast Presenter Steff McGovern
SWNS:South West News Service
The Mi Amigo crew before they died in a crash 75 years ago
SWNS:South West News Service

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