A GROUP of 23 youngsters have had a ‘major breakthrough’ in their bid to learn more about airmen who crashed in the Forest of Bowland and Ribble Valley during the Second World War.

The Clitheroe Youth Forum won a £27,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its ‘We Shall Remember Them’ project after a two-and-a-half-year appeal for funding.

Now the group has discovered the names and nationalities of the 26 airmen who lost their lives in 15 accidents in the area during the war.

So far, the youngsters research has found that the airmen were from Britain (seven), America (nine), Poland (four), and one each from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

It was originally thought that the pilots were from the UK, US, Canada and Poland.

The group, run by community stalwart Mel Diack, plans to place a memorial stone at Langden Brook, create a remembrance book, a Braille book, a film about the crashes and place five stones in and around the crash sites.

Mr Diack said: “It’s amazing what we have found so far.

“We have been doing this since last year and so much progress has been made.

“It’s a major breakthrough for us, but we are still asking for anyone with more information to get in contact.”

The crash sites include Longridge Fell, Dunsop Bridge, Bleasdale Fell, Gisburn and Pendle Hill.

It’s hoped that a series of services in October will be staged to remember those who lost their lives and the group plans to mark the project’s completion in Slaidburn in February 2015.

The group is in discussions with the government for permission for the new memorial stone at Langden Brook as the site is common land owned by United Utilities.

Any young person who would like to join the project or if anyone has any information can call Mr Diack on 01254 823012, or the Lancashire Telegraph Bygones desk on 01254 298223.

LIST OF CRASH VICTIMS: Sgt W. R. Coveney (British) and P/O J. M. Gilmer (New Zealander) crashed flying an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley between late and early hours of 30.04 and 01.05.1940 between Burn Fell and Dunsop Fell.

P/O N. J. Sharpe (British) crashed 18.08.1941 flying a Boulton Paul Defiant and crashed on Hawthornthwaite Fell.

Sgt T Nawrocki (Polish) flying a Supermarine Spitfire and crashed 16.07.1942 Dunsop Bridge area.

F/Sgt J. L. Goulter (Australian) flying a Boulton Paul Defiant crashed on 24.10.1942 near Gisburn.

S.P.Marlatt (Canadian) flying a North American Mustang and crashed on 29.11.1942 Holdron Moss.

F/O W. Pucek (Polish) flying a Supermarine Spitfire crashed 28.12.1942.

Lt H. L. Perry (British) flying a Lockheed P-38F crashed 26.01.1943 Dunsop Fell.

Lt S. L. White (British) flying a Lockheed P-38F and crashed 26.01.1943 on Baxton Fell.

F/O. C. W Haythornthwaite (British) flying a North American Mustang crashed 17.08.1944 on Longridge Fell.

P/O J. R. Runnells (American) flying a Republic P.47D. Crashed 06.02.1944. Pendle Hill.

F/Sgt D.L.Edmonds and F/Sgt J.C. Stones (Both British) flying a Bristol Blenheim crashed late 09.04 to 10.08.1944 Bleasdale Fell.

Lt J.E. Fields, Lt O.O. Casto, Sgt E.E. Lyon T/Sgt T. Nawrocki (All Americans) flying a Consolidated B-24J and crashed 02.01.1945 Crashed Burn Fell.

Sgt P. Struniewski (Polish) flying a North American Mustang crashed 15.02.1945 Forest of Bowland.

1st Lt R.M Wurgel, 1st Lt L.A. Wheaton, Sgt B.J. Watkinson, Cpl N.H. Thesis, Capt W.A. Rathgeber and Pvt R.E. Stone. (All Americans). Flying a Douglas C -54 G and crashed 07.01.1945 crashed Stake House Fell.

Sgt R.S. Zywicki (Polish) flying a Mustang SR 434 crashed 15.04.1945. Inglewhite.