Second World War fighter flypast to mark the moment a Fylde coast pilot lost his life

A second world war vintage fighter will fly over the Fylde coast next week to mark the 80th anniversary of the death of a Lytham RAF pilot.

By Tim Gavell
Friday, 17th June 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 1:20 pm

The memorial service, on Thursday evening from 6.30pm to 7.15pm, will commemorate the sacrifice of Sgt Alan Lever-Ridings whose family were from the area and who lost his life defending Britain against the Nazis while flying an aircraft paid for by the local community.

The event will take place at the replica Spitfire memorial at Fairhaven Lake and will feature The Mayor of Fylde Council, Coun Ben Aitken, Freckleton Brass Band, members of the Royal Air Force Association and Royal British Legion, and local members of the Air Training Corps led by Revd Canon David Banbury, Vicar of St John the Baptist, Burscough.

Then at the end, Lytham pilot Dave Harvey will fly a veteran fighter overhead, subject to weather conditions to coincide with the time Alan’s aircraft was reported missing – 7.30pm on June 23, 1942.

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The memorial Spitfire at Fairhaven Lake where the memorial service to mark 80 years since the death of local pilot Alan Lever-Ridings will be held on Thursday, June 23 from 6.30pm

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John Coombes, chairman of the Lytham St Annes Spitfire Ground Display Team which runs the Hangar 42 aviation museum at Blackpool Airport, said he hoped members of the public would come along to the service they had organised.

John said: “It is important that today’s generations are reminded about the sacrifices of all conflicts and in particular, those in which the current generations, parents, grandparents and great grandparents took part.

"Sgt Alan Lever-Ridings was killed just before his 21st Birthday, flying the Lytham St Annes Spitfire, W3644.

Lytham St Annes Spitfire Visitor Centre at Hangar 42 hosts the Polish Heritage Flight Hawker Hurricane with pilot Dave Harvey

"Residents living in the borough in the 1940’s played their part in raising much needed funds for the war effort, at a time when the invasion of Britain seemed imminent – the memorial at Fairhaven Lake pays tribute to the importance of local community, the sacrifice of the RAF pilots and groundcrew and an aircraft that became a worldwide symbol of sacrifice and struggle.

"Those living today have enjoyed the longest period of unbroken peace in history, and through residents young and old remembering the sacrifices of the past, we hope that this in some way, highlights the realities of defending your homeland from invasion, to protect your way of life, as we see today, in Ukraine.”

That day Alan had been involved in escort duties escorting RAF Bombers on a raid over Morlaix in France. On the return leg of the mission the escorting fighters were jumped by Luftwaffe fighters.

One of Alan’s colleagues was shot down and Alan had seen him ditch into the sea about six miles off Start Point in Devon.

Inside the aviation museum at Blackpool Airport which is open to the public

Alan circled the downed pilot as contact was made with the RAF Sea Rescue crew.

Alan was running low on Fuel and the 92 Squadron CO ordered him back to Perranporth Airfield in Cornwall, but shortly after an aircraft was seen crashing into the Sea off Start Point, Devon