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Inverness pupils to take part in service to mark 80th anniversary of Wellington bomber crash in Loch Ness

By Val Sweeney

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Sgt JS Fensome died when the Wellington bomber ditched in Loch Ness.
Sgt JS Fensome died when the Wellington bomber ditched in Loch Ness.

Pupils from an Inverness school will take part in a pre-recorded service to mark the 80th anniversary of the ditching of a Wellington bomber in Loch Ness.

Pupils from Bishop Eden’s Primary School will recite a poem, The Wellington Certificate of Airworthiness, at the service being recorded in Inverness Cathedral.

The ill-fated wartime flight took place on Hogmanay 1940 when the aircraft ran into a snow storm.

One member of the crew, 20-year-old Sgt JS Fensome, was killed when his parachute failed to open and although the other seven members of the RAF aircrew survived to fly another day, four of them were killed in action before the end of World War II.

Plans to mark the anniversary have been altered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, there will be an online presentation and film.

Cathedral Provost Very Rev Sarah Murray and Rev (Squadron Leader) Nicholas Hanover of RAF Lossiemouth will take part in the service.

The poem to be recited by pupils from Bishop Eden’s Primary School was written by Rhiannon Naismith, a pupil at Drumsmittal Primary School on the Black Isle, in 1985.

It will also include Joanna Stebbings, of Loch Ness RNLI, members of the Royal British Legion Scotland and air cadets from 161 – 1st Highland Squardron.

Wreaths will be laid, poppy petals scattered and a one-minute silence will be observed.

Bells will also be rung.

Scaled-back commemorations will mark the 80th anniversary.
Scaled-back commemorations will mark the 80th anniversary.

The programme of commemorations is being organised by the Loch Ness Wellington 2020 Project, a group of aircraft enthusiasts, or people with links to the Wellington bomber.

The project’s leader, Jack Waterfall, said the presentation would be screened online from 3.15pm on New Year’s Eve.

It will include Marking the Spot, featuring film shot on Loch Ness.

It will be integrated with the Marking the Moment in Inverness Cathedral.

Mr Waterfall said: “We had to alter the plans because of the coronavirus pandemic, but we are doing our best in a difficult situation to commemorate the anniversary.”

The film will be available via lochnesswellington2020.org

Related story: Poignant act of remembrance by RNLI volunteers to honour crew of Wellington bomber which crashed into Loch Ness

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