|‘They died for the freedom of Norway’|
| [20.02.2012, 08:53am, Mon. GMT]|
|A NORTH-EAST soldier who died moments before he was due to help liberate Norway is to be formally commemorated for the first time. Private Thomas Laycock was only 26 when the Stirling LK147 he was on board crashed 1,500 metres south of the Gardermoen airport, near Oslo, in Norway, killing him and other 19 men on May 10, 1945. There were no survivors. Although the men’s remains were exhumed shortly afterwards and buried in an Oslo cemetery, the crash site was forgotten for 64 years until civic leaders and the Ullensaker Historical Society turned the site into a memorial garden.Now, they want to trace the families of all the men on board and ask them to attend the first formal civic memorial service to commemorate their efforts in the liberation of Norway.|
Little is known about Pte Laycock, apart from that he was from Darlington and his parents were called Margaret and William. He served with The Border Regiment. The historical society do not have a photograph of him.
Along with Pte Laycock were men were from The Royal Australian Airforce, The Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve and The Leicester Regiment.
They were among the 30,000 Allied troops sent to supervise the disarmament of more than 350,000 German soldiers occupying Norway as part of Operation Doomsday.
It is thought the aircraft crashed because of bad weather, which had forced 13 other aircraft to turn back to Shepherds Grove airbase, Suffolk.
A temporary graveyard was established at the crash site, on the banks of the River Sogna, before the remains were exhumed on November 17, 1945, and buried at Oslo cemetery Vestre Gravlund, near other Commonwealth war graves.
Some remains of the aircraft are still at the crash site.
The graveyard at the River Sogna remained forgotten until a senior advisor for cultural affairs in Nannestad municipality, Lars Jahr, together with Ullensaker Historical Society, removed trees and shrubs and reconstructed a simple white picket fence during summer 2009 and 2010 to commemorate the site.
The memorial ceremony will take place on May 12.
Gunnar Foseid, one of the memorial ceremony organisers, said: “We have made contact with relatives from nine of the 20 men onboard, and about 20 relatives have so far said yes to attend the commemoration on May 12.
“But we desperately need help to find more relatives so they can participate in this important commemoration.”
Anyone with information about Pte Laycock is asked to contact The Northern Echo on 01325-505068 or email email@example.com
(The north rnecho)