Five World War Two airmen, who were tragically killed in Whitehaven in 1943, have been honoured in the most heartfelt and fitting way – by being featured on Whitehaven Air Cadets’ newest Squadron badge and banner.

Flying Officer H J O’Gara and his men, Sergeant C Johnson, Sergeant P Inman, Sergeant V J Dunnigan and Sergeant R H Murphy were struck by the wing of an Avro Anson aircraft while in Whitehaven to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, and were killed instantly.

The wing fell from the aircraft as it was flying over Whitehaven for a training exercise, after setting off from Millom earlier that day.

The cause of the malfunction was found to be metal fatigue.

The five Canadian, American, and British airmen were the only victims of the accident, and the air cadet squadron wanted to ensure they would always be remembered.

When designing their new badge, the idea to represent the men who lost their lives just steps away from the squadron’s meeting place was suggested and, with the prospect of having the same design on a new banner also being supported, the airmen will now be remembered by all members of the Whitehaven Air Cadets, old and new.

With the help of Whitehaven Town Council, which donated money to the cadets, the squadron’s latest badge design was sewn onto its new banner.

It represents the five World War Two airmen in the form of five stars curved above an Avro Anson aircraft, with the squadron’s motto, ‘advance through adventure’, written underneath.

The banner featuring the striking design was presented to the cadets on Sunday by Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria Claire Hensman, at an event for all the community to attend and pay their respects.

Fifteen-year-old Corporal Katie Malcolm stepped into the role of standard-bearer, taking on the responsibility of marching with the banner.

Warrant Officer Phil Barnard commented on the gesture, and the tragedy of the event that took the lives of the Royal Canadian Air Force airmen, saying: “It’s a really fitting memorial, and it’s something that will last forever.

“The accident happened because of an unknown issue with metal fatigue, and it’s such a shame that the strains of war cost the men, who weren’t on active service at the time, their lives.”

He continued, speaking of Sunday’s presentation of the banner: “Corporal Katie Malcolm was really looking forward to being the standard-bearer, but she was a bit nervous because she wanted it to be perfect.

“It’s such an important design, and we all want people to pay their respects and admire the badge and banner, and remember the airmen.”