MP Andrew Lewer campaigns for London memorial to RAF reconnaissance unit and its 98-year-old Northampton survivor

The memorial is hoped to be built in London to memorialise the hundreds who died in the unit's service

By Max Pearson
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 5:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 6:54 pm

A Northampton-based war veteran's campaign to memorialise a lesser-known RAF unit from the Second World War has been backed by Andrew Lewer, the MP for Northampton South.

The National PRU Monument campaign, spearheaded in 2019 by the Spitfire AA810 project, hopes to build the memorial in honour of the Photo Reconnaissance Unit (PRU), who flew unarmed 'Mosquito' aircraft over enemy territory to feed vital intelligence back to Allied command.

The unit would capture more than 20 million images of enemy operations during the war, all while flying completely unarmed. Sadly more than 500 of those servicemen became casualties, with 144 lost with no known grave.

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Hopes are high that London authorities will approve the memorial with the MPs' help

George Pritchard, who has lived in Northampton for many years now, joined the RAF at just 17 and is one of the only surviving veterans of the PRU. He said that he was glad of the support offered by not one, but two MPs.

The now 98-year-old veteran said: "I have a list of 3,148 men that were in it, like me, up to 1945. Now I'm the only one left, except for one other chap.

"I think it's great to have Andrew on board. We get on famously. To have both Andrew Lewer and Andrew Bowie helping to get this made is a great help."

MP Andrew Lewer gave his support to the campaign after being introduced to George by Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and KincardineAndrew Bowie, who had picked up the campaign once his predecessor had lost his seat.

The Mosquito was a light reconnaissance aircraft that, armed only with cameras and speed, braved German anti-air fire to bring intelligence home

The MP said he respected the tough work and sacrifice of the servicemen and that he wanted them to be suitably remembered for it.

Mr Lewer said: "There are only four living airmen from the PRU. I am proud to say that my Northampton South constituent George, now entering his 99th year, is one of them.

“My support for this memorial draws back to the conversations I had with George about his comrades who lost their lives in service to their country in a time of war undertaking extraordinary and dangerous missions in extraordinary and dangerous times.

"Quite a few of those who lost their lives were never buried. It is fitting that we remember them by name. George is passionate to have their names remembered and it is the least I can do to help him realise this goal.

"This is why I am campaigning with George for a national memorial, to set in stone the names of those brave airmen who, to paraphrase John Maxwell Edmonds, gave their today for our tomorrow in a unit that helped change the course of the war."

Anyone who is interested in the campaign can visit the SpitfireAA810 website.