A pensioner who has tended to a Second World War crash memorial for 74 years has sparked calls for an RAF flypast to honour the ten who died.
Tony Foulds, 82, was just eight years old when he watched the B17 Flying Fortress crash into Endcliffe Park in Sheffield in February 1944.
He says he still feels guilty over the airmen’s deaths because he believes the stricken American bomber, known as Mi Amigo, may have landed safely if he and his friends were not playing football in the park.
Ever since the crash he has devoted his spare time to looking after the war memorial to honour the men, saying they are ‘like family’ to him.
Tony Foulds pictured at the war memorial in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield. He has tended to it for the last 74 years after he witnessed the crash
He has called for a flypast to honour their memory on the anniversary of the crash next month, in a plea backed by BBC presenter Dan Waler.
A series of tweets using the hashtag #GetTonyAFlypast were liked more than 6000 times in a matter of hours.
Mr Walker told his followers: ‘Just met an amazing man in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield.
‘Tony Foulds was an 8-yr-old playing in the park when a US plane crashed in Feb 1944. He has diligently maintained the memorial ever since.
‘He was planting new flowers. Almost 75 yrs of service. What a man. I’m in bits.’
.The ten airmen who died, from back row: Robert Mayfield, Vito Ambrosio, Harry Estabrooks, George Williams, Charles Tuttle, Maurice Robbins Front Row: John Kriegshauser, Lyle Curtis, Melchor Hernandez, John Humphrey
The plaque on the war memorial in Endcliffe Park. Mr Foulds says he still feels guilty over the airmen’s deaths because he believes the stricken American bomber, known as Mi Amigo, may have landed safely if he and his friends were not playing football in the park
He added: ‘He’s been sweeping the leaves away all morning and has replanted and cleaned the whole thing.
‘He re-told the story of the day so vividly and knew the names of all 10 who died. ‘They are like family to me even though I never knew them.’
‘He doesn’t want a medal. All he wants is a fly-past on the 75th anniversary on the 22nd Feb 2019.’
He also told how Mr Foulds has Parkinson’s disease for the past 21 years.
Wreckage of B-17 Flying Fortress nicknamed ‘Mi Amigo’ of the 305th Bomb Group at Endcliffe Park, Sheffield in 1944. The American bomber was ambushed on a bombing raid over Europe before it plummeted from the skies
He added: ‘He couldn’t even get his phone out of his pocket this morning because of the shakes but still sweeps, cleans and tends the memorial.
‘Let’s mark his 75 years of service with something special.’
Speaking to the Sheffield Star, Mr Foulds said: ‘I can remember seeing the plane circling above and the airmen waving at us.
‘But being young boys we just thought they were being friendly. Then it went over the trees and there was a huge explosion.
TV presenter Dan Walker’s tweet, top, was met with a flurry of support from other Twitter users and calls for Mr Foulds to be honoured for his work
‘It is only later in life that it dawned on me they were waving for us to get out of the way so they could land on the grass.
‘They avoided us and I owe everything to them. I have had 75 years of life since then thanks to their brave actions.
‘A flypast would be a fitting way to remember them. It would be a very, very emotional moment.’
He added: ‘I am not in good health now but come rain or shine I will always go there because of what they did.
‘They should never be forgotten.’
Mr Walker’s tweet was met with a flurry of support, with twitter users calling for Mr Foulds to be honoured for his work.
One wrote: ‘What an amazing man. He deserves recognition.
Another added: ‘These are the people who deserve recognition from our honours system. What a lovely man.’