NO ONE could fail to be moved by Sheffield’s special tribute to the 10 American airmen who lost their lives 75 years ago when their B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo, crashed into woodland by Endcliffe Park as its pilot and crew tried to avoid young children playing on the ground.
The joint flypast by British and American jets, watched by thousands of people under clear blue skies, was a gentle reminder of the sacrifices made by the Allies in the Second World War as they stood firm against tyranny – even return flights from the theatre of war were never free from risk.
Yet what was so palpable was the extent to which Sheffielders – and the rest of the country – also came together to salute the octogenerian Tony Foulds whose chance conversation with BBC presenter Dan Walker inspired this commemoration. For decades, he has devoted his life to tending to the Mi Amigo memorial after witnessing the tragedy. The “sense of guilt” that he survived, and 10 young men did not return home, remains profound.
What was also so striking was how relatives of the fallen had no idea about “their extended Sheffield family” until relatively recently and how this humbling humanity had brought them great comfort. And while Mr Foulds, 82, was typically modest when he stressed that the occasion was “all about my lads”, The Yorkshire Post and, no doubt, many others, begs to disagree. His commitment embodies the warmth of human kindness – and this proud county. And although the honours system did not do enough to recognise the community work undertaken by World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks, another proud son of Sheffield, before his death last week, it can redeem itself by recognising the fine example still set by Tony Foulds every day when he tends to the memorial. As he had dared to dream, his ‘lads’ did get their flypast.