CROWDS gathered at the Broadway Tower memorial early this month to pay tribute to five Canadian airmen who lost their lives at the site.

Amongst the groups of people who attended the service at the memorial stone on Monday, June 2, was a special guest who made the journey from America.

Cathy Peria, of Eagan, Minnesota, is the niece of one of the airmen, Flt Sgt Donald Herbert Kelly, who died during World War Two.

He perished alongside Pilot HG Hagen, Sgt EG Ekins, Sgt DA Marriott and Sgt RS Phillips, when their Whitley bomber came down near Broadway Tower on June 2, 1943.

Mrs Peria first visited the memorial stone in March last year, shortly before it was replaced, after reading about it on the Evesham Journal website.

She was so moved by the memorial, which is looked after by the Evesham Royal Air Force Association, she and her husband Bill Bartusch decided to travel across the Atlantic to see it.

But this year she made the journey to coincide with the memorial event, and was joined by her friend Lori Galligan.

Mrs Peria said: "I was able to travel with a friend this year and attend the recent memorial service. It was a tremendous experience for which I will always be grateful.

"The members of the RAF Association in Evesham, and many others, welcomed us with much kindness and generosity.

"And the memorial service at Broadway Tower Park beautifully expressed the sorrow at the loss of such young men, as well as love, respect and remembrance for them.

"I feel very blessed to have been able to attend and also to meet so many wonderful people."

The service at the memorial marked 71 years since the event and was said to be the best yet.

Robin Phillips, secretary of the Evesham RAF association, said: "About 80 people attended the service, which was taken by Revd Michelle Massey. The service was really very good.

"We had 11 standard bearers and so many more people than before.

"I don't know whether Cathy will come each year but it was brilliant to have her here. She was impressed by the stone the first time and wanted to come back. We made contact through the Journal and met her this year."