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Lisbon plaque will commemorate actor’s final journey
Bristol International has teamed up with Lisbon Airport to help commemorate a flight which crashed during the Second World War, killing 17 people including the actor Leslie Howard.
BOAC flight 777 was en route from Portugal to Whitchurch Airport (the original site of Bristol Airport) when it was attacked by German fighters over the Bay of Biscay. It is alleged that the plane, a Douglas DC-3, was attacked because the Germans believed that Winston Churchill was on board, although official papers on the incident are not expected to be released until 2025.
Mike Littleton, Bristol International’s Community Relations Manager, and Ivan Sharp, whose grandfather was a passenger on flight 777, will unveil a commemorative plaque at Lisbon Airport’s museum on Monday 1 June – the anniversary of the attack. A similar plaque will feature in an aviation heritage display planned at Bristol International.
Whitchurch was the only civil airport that remained open throughout the war, providing vital links with neutral Europe. British and German aircraft operated from the same facilities in Lisbon, and it is believed the Lisbon-Bristol route frequently carried agents and escaped prisoners-of-war back to Britain.
Mike Littleton commented:
“The comfort and convenience of an easyJet flight from Bristol to Lisbon is a far-cry from the forties experience. During the Second World War flights between Bristol and Lisbon, although regular, were restricted by the British government to diplomats, military personnel, VIPs, and others with government approval. Today, travel between the two countries is easy, quick and available to all.
“Flight 777 was a tragic chapter in Bristol’s rich aviation history, and it is fitting that it will be commemorated at the airport from which it departed 66 years ago.”
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