Heartfelt musical tribute for wartime Wangford air-crash victims

PUBLISHED: 09:04 08 October 2010 | UPDATED: 09:04 08 October 2010

A SINGER from Texas will perform a special song at Wangford tomorrow after discovering that her uncle has a memorial in the village.

Until recently, the family of 
2nd Lt Richard Albert knew only that the United States Army Air Force pilot had died in a plane crash over the village during the second world war.

But, after sending an email to the Wangford village website last year – 65 years after his death – they were able to discover more about what happened.

It was while taking part in a training exercise on February 5, 1944, that 
2nd Lt Albert’s aircraft climbed in front of that of 2nd Lt Roger Phillips after becoming disorientated in snow clouds.

His P-47 Thunderbolt fighter/bomber was cut in half by 2nd Lt Phillips’s plane: he had no chance of avoiding him.

Lt Albert’s aircraft, having lost its tail, plummeted to earth in a field opposite the village shop, close to where the A12 now runs; 2nd Lt Phillips’s plane crashed at Reydon.

Two years ago, a memorial to the pilots, who had been stationed at Holton, was unveiled at Pound Corner, Wangford.

2nd Lt Albert’s niece, Christine Albert, was so moved to hear of the story that she wrote Wings of War, which she will sing at the memorial at 3pm tomorrow. Christine wrote the song with her husband, Chris Gage, with whom she performs as folk, rock, blues and bluegrass duo Albert and Gage. A banner is already up in the village to let everyone know of their arrival from the States, ahead of their European tour.

Rod Tassinari, who was contacted by the Alberts through his village website, Wangford Web, provided the family with information about the background to the crash.

“All they knew what that he died in a training accident and that was it,” he said. “They didn’t know what had happened, what caused the accident or anything, so to get all this information and to know that there was a memorial to him came as a bit of a shock.

“They are very excited. Christine said she was getting very emotional already.”

Mr Tassinari has been listening to Wings of War in advance of the special performance.“It’s one of the most moving songs I have heard. When I got the lyrics, it brought a lump to my throat just reading the words,” he said.

The idea for the marble and brick memorial plaque came from Graham Gilbert, who lives in Wangford. He wanted to ensure no one would forget the sacrifices made by the airmen.

Albert and Gage will also perform a concert at Wangford Village Hall at 7.30pm to raise money for the St Peter and St Paul Church roof appeal.

Listen to the song at more about Albert and Gage, and to read the lyrics of Wings of War, visit:

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