As a lone piper played the hymn Amazing Grace, a group of young Germans honouring a Scottish Lancaster bomber pilot and his crew whose plane was shot down near their village during the Second World War bowed their heads.
Flight sergeant Ronald Jamieson from Kirriemuir in Angus was killed, aged 20, when his plane was shot down on 24 March 1944 in Nägelstedt in central Germany.
The plane, headed towards Berlin on a midnight bombing mission, exploded as it subsequently crashed near the spa town of Bad Lagensalza.
The date became known by the Germans as “the night of the strong winds” due to the high winds which blew a number of Allied bombers off course, leading to their destruction.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the night Mr Jamieson and his six ED317 625 Squadron crew lost their lives, four young local German men – René Schütz, Livius Schillingham , Kevin Schmidt and Thorben Ehmer – from the village raised money for a cairn.
The monument near the crash site carries a memorial plaque with the names of the dead inscribed on it.
Standing with you on the memorial site that day was one of the most moving moments of my life. You and your family are always welcome here.RENÉ SCHÜTZ
Among those killed was fellow Scot, wireless operator/gunner James Scott, 21, from Dundee. Flight engineer Eric Tones, 19, navigator Bartlett Rogers, 22, air gunner sergeant Eric Waller, 20, air gunner sergeant James Etheridge, 21, and air gunner sergeant John Honey, 19, also died. Attending the ceremony was Elizabeth Baillie, Mr Jamieson’s second cousin, the mayor of Bad Lagensalza, a German MP and dozens of villagers, as well as German television crews and members of the media.
“I felt time stood still as we all stood there,” said Mrs Baillie, a church administrator. “It was just overwhelming, especially to have a piper there and a priest saying a prayer. I found it a life-changing event, to be just there with your thoughts, in the other country, the ‘enemy country’, and they were moved as much as us. We are all determined to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen again.
“It moved me greatly that no family member had been there for 75 years.
“I left a piece of tartan ribbon and a thistle with Ronald.”
Mrs Baillie was presented with a wooden frame containing parts of the bombed Lancaster, collected by villagers.
The invitation to the event was originally sent to Mr Jamieson’s cousin, Harry Jamieson, 90, from Kirriemuir, who remembers his older cousin Ronald setting off to join the RAF.
Despite ill-health preventing him from attending, Harold Jamieson and his wife sent a message, in German, which was played at the ceremony. Mr Schütz, 40, a paramedic, sent an email to Mrs Baillie following the event, which said: “Standing with you on the memorial site that day was one of the most moving moments of my life.”
The dead pilot’s grandmother was a cousin of Sir JM Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, who was born in Kirriemuir.