Wartime mystery is finally solved thanks to resident’s reseach

A WARTIME mystery has been solved for the daughter of a soldier who died in a plane crash near Wilmington.

Pat Coates has been able to piece together the story of her father’s demise thanks to information gathered by Polegate resident Peter Tyrell.

RAF technician Frank Bainbridge was among 23 allied airmen killed on February 6 1945 when the 575 squadron aircraft they were passengers in struck the top of Folkington Hill, near St Peter’s Church.

The pilot had flown from RAF Thorney Island, along the South Downs and was lining up for Beachy Head to cross the Channel on his way to Belgium when he became disorientated in downland mist. The aircraft drove into the hill, turned on its back, down into woodland at Middle Brow and caught fire claiming the lives of all its occupants.

Pat, who lives with her husband Eric in Yorkshire, only discovered the truth about her father’s death after her mother, who remarried in 1958, died.

She was sorting through family papers when they discovered the truth about Frank Bainbridge and his fatal flight towards Belgium. Frank is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.

Eric was on his computer one afternoon and discovered a link to Peter in Polegate, who made a complete archive of the incident in 2007.

Pat and Eric and Peter began comparing notes and finally met earlier this month.

They met at St Peter’s Church, Folkington, to pay homage to the wartime airmen who passed away.

The three are also in contact with 82-year-old Ken Lee from Pevensey Bay whose brother Gerald was also on board the fatal flight in 1945.