On Sunday 26th September 1943 inhabitants of Bulphan and West Horndon witnessed the tragic accident of two USAF B17 “Flying Fortress’ bombers the “Dorsal Queen” and “Raunchy Wolf”, colliding in mid-air and crashing near Dillingham Hall Farm and Notti’s Farm resulting in the deaths of all but one of the crews. The sole survivor was the Dorsal Queen’s tail gunner, Sgt John Adams.
On Saturday 22nd September a service of commemoration, thanksgiving and remembrance was held at St Mary’s, Bulphan to mark the 75th Anniversary of this accident. Present were Lieutenant Colonel Jim Gringras (assistant Air Attaché US Embassy) and family, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Slazinik (Officer Commanding 100th Air Refuelling Wing, RAF Mildenhall) and family, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mr Stephen Bennett and his wife, Councillor Barbara Rice (Mayor of Thurrock) and Councillor Sheila Murphy (Mayor of Brentwood). Also present was the Chairman of Thurrock Branch Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Mr Jim Gooding who himself served as a tail gunner on Lancaster’s in WW2, flying from RAF Mildenhall, as well as members of RAFA, RBL and other interested groups. The Base Honour Guard from RAF Mildenhall also attended. The service was conducted by Reverend Sue Mann Rector of the Benefice of Orsett, Bulphan and Horndon on the Hill, with the address and blessing made by the Venerable Mike Lodge, Archdeacon of Southend, Mr Stephen Bennett DL read the lesson and Lt Col Gringras and Lt Col Slazinik read the names of the crews.
Janet McCheynne relayed her mother’s memories of the incident and how Sgt Adams came to their door, although injured and somewhat shaken was largely OK after his ordeal. It was mentioned that Sgt Adams never flew again after this.
Wreaths were laid by Lt Col Gringras and Lt Col Slazinik on behalf of the United States Air Force and Mr Jim Gooding on behalf of RAFA, during the Act of Remembrance.
Jane Bennett (of Bennett funeral services) presented framed a framed Roll of Honour Lt Col Gringras, Lt Col Slazinik, Cllr Rice and Cllr Murphy.
The ladies of Bulphan WI provided refreshments after the service.