The sister of an RAF airman who was killed in a flying accident in wartime Pembrokeshire has visited for the first time the memorial to him and his bomber crew.

Phyllis Height, who lives in Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, was just 18-months-old when her brother, Maurice Cooke, died when his Wellington bomber crashed in Milford Docks in July 1942. Maurice, who was just 20-years-old, died alongside five Australian airmen in what was one of Milford town’s worst wartime tragedies.

In 1986, a memorial was erected on Hamilton Terrace, Milford Haven, remembering the crew of Wellington N2749 and this has been a focus of remembrance ever since, especially on ANZAC Day in April each year.

Meeting up with Phyllis and her husband, John, at the memorial in early October were Sue Kenny, a trustee of Milford Haven Museum; Jan McNally, of Neyland, who has carried out extensive research into the wartime accident, and John Evans, of the Pembrokeshire Aviation Group, which arranged the commemorative events in 1986.

Accompanying Phyllis and John were family friends, retired RAF Squadron Leader David Bray and his wife, Anne. Before joining the RAF, David lived in Hakin for several years and was head boy at Milford Grammar School. His father was a harbour pilot for the Milford Haven Conservancy Board.

After laying flowers at the memorial, Phyllis said: “I was so little when Maurice was killed and of course do not remember him but he would have known me. My father had died the previous year and I had three much older brothers, the eldest was captured at Dunkirk in 1940 and was a prisoner of war for five years.

“My family knew very little about the circumstances of Maurice’s death, only that he had died in the air crash in Milford Haven.

“My husband, John, and David Bray are golf partners and in conversation one day the Milford Haven connection came up and David knew about the accident. From this, a visit was planned and I am so very pleased to have come to see the memorial and to meet local people who have been involved over the years in remembering Maurice and his crew colleagues.”

Jan McNally’s researches into the crew members has led to her visiting official archives in Canberra, Australia, and she has met up with family and friends of some of the five Australian airmen. Phyllis and John were able to view Jan’s research files.

After visiting the memorial and the now much-changed Milford Docks area to see where the Wellington came down, the visitors went to the Military Cemetery in Pembroke Dock where the five Australians were laid to rest. The airmen are especially remembered by Jan McNally who visits regularly, laying flowers on their graves to mark ANZAC and Australia Days and the individual birthdays of each man.