An Airman’s Memorial

This morning, as the bright winter sun struggled to lift temperatures above zero, I decided to take my bike on its inaugural 2023 road trip.

My ride took me to the village of Croxton.

According to our re-hashed political boundaries the village sits in what is now designated as North Lincolnshire. I, however, prefer to acknowledge the shire network established by King Athelstan, rather than those of our irrelevant Westminster Parliament. So, to me this is and will remain simply Lincolnshire.

Athelstan was, after all, ‘the very celebrated king who by the Grace of God ruled all England, which prior to him many kings shared between them’, so I consider he deserves some recognition.

Even on a pushbike, it takes under a minute to ride through the tiny parish. Indeed, according to the 2011 census the population was less than a hundred. The village’s entry in ‘The King’s England – Lincolnshire’ (1949) begins:

Croxton. It looks over the fields to Kirmington’s green spire and to Brocklesby’s grand woods; and on the wooded height west of the village is the great entrenchment known as Yarborough Camp, where many Roman coins have been found.

With only a few scattered cottages, the village’s only feature of note is its church.

Although restored sometime in the 19th-century, the old work is mainly 13th-century, with features such as the blocked south doorway and some of the windows being late medieval.

One feature of the cemetery was a grave nearby the porch. It is that of an airman, Timothy Anson Dee. An engraving of a Lancaster bomber and Navigator’s wing badge is cut into the headstone. The sergeant navigator was tragically killed when his stricken aircraft crashed near Linton-on-Ouse when returning from a raid on Berlin.

It was, however, the date that was most significant to me. For that date, December 16, 1943, was catastrophic for the RAF. I knew this as, on that ‘black Thursday,’ two further Lancasters had collided over my own home village of Ulceby, killing both crews.

Moved to do so on seeing a small plaque in Ulceby’s war memorial several years ago, I’d researched this collision, obtaining several eye witness testimonies. My account of the tragic event was later published in the Lincolnshire Poacher magazine. It also appears here on this site. To access it click on the image below:

Researching and writing up the account had a profound effect on me at the time. So much so, that now, several years later whenever a late winter fog descends upon the village, and the pale sun goes down, my mind always drifts to the poor souls lost that night.

So it was, then, with fingers numb from the cold, I turned my bike around and returned home, determined to write this post. A modest tribute to yet one more airman. Sergeant Timothy Anson Dee.

Another pawn lost to the game.

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