Cotswold church service pays tribute to brave pilot!

Sgt Handcock

Sgt Handcock

This Sunday parishes across the Cotswolds will hold Remembrance Services as people unite in paying tribute to the heroism of men and women in wartime.

Those attending the Windrush Church service will also witness the dedication of a memorial bench to a hero who died above the skies at Windrush on August 18 1940, during the Battle of Britain.

Sgt Pilot Bruce Hancock R.A.F.V.R was 26 years-old when he took off from RAF Windrush. It was dark and he was practising night flying in his Avro Anson training aircraft. Sgt Pilot Hancock had almost finished his training at RAF Little Rissington and was about to go on leave.

He was spotted by an enemy aircraft and chased by the Heinkel. The gunner opened fire and Sgt Hancock could not fire back as his plane carried no armoury. He decided his only option was a drastic one and promptly rammed the Heinkel’s underside.

Both aircraft fell to the ground in flames and all crew from both aircraft were killed.

The German crew were buried at Northleach Church with full military honours, including the last post and a fly past. Sgt Pilot Bruce Hancock was buried at Hendon.

The dedication this Sunday will replace a memorial that was placed at the church in 1988 and has been damaged by frost.

Reverend David Ackerman will lead the service at Windrush Church. He said: “We have had the bench made to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the heroism of Sgt Pilot Hancock. We have to remember that our freedom and our lives have depended on the heroism of people like Sgt Hancock.

”It is possible to make broader points about human greatness by looking at the heroic acts of just one person.”

A touching part of the story for Revd Ackerman, is how the crew from the German plane were treated in death. “They were given a full military burial. We showed respect to them. It is important to remember that even during wartime we can retain our dignity and compassion,” he said.

He added: “As long as there is a church at Windrush, Sgt Hancock will be remembered”.

Story by Charlotte Shepherd.

Picture by Admin.

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