Em­bassy marks 75 years of Bri­tish air­man’s death in Fu­jairah crash

Sergeant ‘Billy’ Don­nelly died af­ter a bomber crash-landed dur­ing Se­cond World War

Gulf News - - Nation -

Amem­ber of the Bri­tish air force who died in a bomber crash dur­ing the Se­cond World War in Fu­jairah in 1943 was re­mem­bered yes­ter­day, the Bri­tish Em­bassy said.

A ser­vice of re­mem­brance was held at Sayh Dhad­nah in Fu­jairah on Fe­bru­ary 14 to mark the 75th death an­niver­sary of the Bri­tish air­man, Sergeant William (‘Billy’) Don­nelly, whose plane crash-landed at the site in 1943, the mis­sion said in a press re­lease.

The ser­vice to re­mem­ber Sergeant Don­nelly was at­tended by the Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to the UAE, Philip Parham, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the UK’s Min­istry of De­fence.

On Fe­bru­ary 14, 1943, a Welling­ton bomber of the Royal Air Force crash-landed at Sayh Dhad­nah, near Dibba, af­ter tak­ing off from the Royal Air Force base in Shar­jah.

Of the crew of four and one pas­sen­ger, one of the crew, the nav­i­ga­tor, Sergeant William Don­nelly, was se­ri­ously in­jured, dy­ing shortly after­wards. He was buried by his col­leagues close to the crash site.

With en­cour­age­ment from His High­ness Shaikh Ha­mad Bin Mo­ham­mad Al Sharqi, Supreme Coun­cil Mem­ber and Ruler of Fu­jairah, re­search iden­ti­fied the site of the crash sev­eral years ago, with a me­morial to Sergeant Don­nelly be­ing erected in 2010.

Bri­tish Am­bas­sador Parham said: “To­day’s touch­ing ser­vice al­lows us to com­mem­o­rate the sac­ri­fice that Sergeant Don­nelly made in the name of free­dom 75 years ago.”

He said it is also a re­minder of the en­dur­ing friend­ship be­tween the peo­ples of the UK and the UAE, and of all those who lose their lives in the line of duty for their coun­try.

“I would like to thank His High­ness Shaikh Ha­mad Al Sharqi for his sup­port for to­day’s event,” the en­voy added.

June Bot­ten, Billy’s niece, said that she was so grate­ful to both Shaikh Ha­mad and the Bri­tish Em­bassy for con­tin­u­ing to re­mem­ber Billy.

“I re­mem­ber him with fond­ness and it is com­fort­ing to know that he is re­mem­bered still in the coun­try where he died serv­ing his coun­try. I would also like to thank the RAF for hold­ing Re­mem­brance Day events at the me­morial ev­ery Novem­ber and for or­gan­is­ing a wreath from the fam­ily this year.

“I look back at the day I, along with my daugh­ter Les­ley, un­veiled Billy’s me­morial with a sense of won­der. It was as­ton­ish­ing that re­searchers Brien Holmes and Lau­rence Garey had pin­pointed the site of the plane crash. At the cer­e­mony, I met a lo­cal man who, as a boy, had wit­nessed the ac­ci­dent. His ac­count of what hap­pened and Brien’s work an­swered the ques­tion I’d been liv­ing with for 70 years — what hap­pened to Un­cle Billy?”

A re­mem­brance ser­vice was held at Sayh Dhad­nah in Fu­jairah yes­ter­day to mark the death an­niver­sary of Sergeant Don­nelly.

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