Relative of Second World War airman from Preston is found in the nick of time

A relative of a forgotten Second World War airman has been found in time to attend a memorial service - thanks to an appeal in the Lancashire Post.

Stanley Anderton, nephew of William Cross
Stanley Anderton, nephew of William Cross

William Cross died along with seven other RAF airmen when two North American B-25 planes collided in mid-air over West Sussex while returning from bombing factories in occupied France on January 7, 1944.

With just weeks to go before a memorial service to the dead on August 31, organiser Adam Tudor-Lane said he’d “hit a brick wall” searching for William’s family to invite to the event.

But the appeal was spotted by an amateur genealogist from Ashton, who, using internet ancestry tools, managed to trace William’s nephew Stanley Anderton.

William Cross

>>> Read about what happened in the crash by clicking here

The 71-year-old retired electrician who lives on Preston Docks will now be travelling to the service to pay his respects.

He said: “I was so pleased to be contacted about the memorial because you can tell in the photograph he was a grand chap and if my mother loved him he would have been a fun chap.

“She was the one who was closest to him. She always talked and wept in remembrance of him. She called him Bill.

William Cross, far right. Pictured with his crewmates all killed in an aeroplace crash in 1944

“His photographs were always in prominent positions in the house.”

Mr Anderton revealed William was a “handsome, lively chap” who enjoyed shooting ducks on Longton Marshes.

Mr Tudor-Lane said: “I’m ecstatic that we managed to find relatives for William, he was the last crew member we had nobody for. I felt totally disheartened that one of the crew couldn’t be found and there was no conclusive answer as to his relatives whereabouts.

“After calling Stanley for the first time, telling him about the memorial and service I hung up with tears streaming, finally all the crew were represented. I’d have been devastated for the service to go ahead only to find out later that relatives were alive and able to attended.”

98 squadron B-25 Mitchell.

Around 60 people will be attending the service at the crash site. There will be representation from the RAF, Royal British Legion and Preston Councillor John Browne will also be attending as he is holidaying in the area at the time.