A bus named after a hero of the 1953 floods is back on the roads of West Norfolk following repairs.
In January 2013, to mark the 60th anniversary of the disaster, Norfolk Green agreed to a request from David Bell of Ingoldisthorpe that a bus should be named in honour of Reis Leming, who was awarded the George Medal for his single-handed rescue of 27 people trapped by the tidal surge.
Recently, the bus had to be withdrawn from service following a road traffic accident but, following repairs, the double-decker was relaunched last week in the presence of an invited guest with a very good reason to be grateful to Reis and other members of his squadron, the USAF 67th Air Rescue Squadron.
Neil Quincey and his family were brought to safety in Reis Leming’s rubber life raft after four other members of the 67th had risked their lives by driving to Neil’s house in an amphibious vehicle at the height of the storm.
He said: “I am very pleased to see the bus back on the road again, because it is important to have this reminder of those who lost their lives that night, as well as the heroism of members of the 67th who put their own lives at risk while saving my family and many others.
“My hope now is to see similar recognition given to Sgt Freeman A Kilpatrick, the US airman who lived with his wife and daughter next door to us in January 1953.
“Freeman was also awarded the George Medal for saving eighteen of his neighbours from the floods, and he deserves to have a bus and a footpath in the esplanade gardens named in his honour.”
Senior Master Sergeant Montgomery DeCarlo, of the 67th, said: “It is always a privilege to take part in honouring the fallen; the survivors; and the heroes of Hunstanton’s floods of January 31st 1953.
“Knowing that the Reis Leming bus is fully functional and once again gracing the streets of this remarkable town gives members of the 67th Special Operations Squadron great pleasure. Thank you for including us in this worthwhile event.”
Norfolk Green managing director Andrew Dyer said: “The storm surge and floods of January 31st 1953 had a devastating impact on the people in our local communities and Norfolk Green is very pleased to help in commemorating the many people who showed incredible bravery that night as well as remembering those who sadly lost the lives.”
Replicas of the name badge on the front of the bus were presented to the squadron. Another one is on show at Hunstanton Heritage Centre, as part of a display commemorating of the floods and Hunstanton’s continuing relationship with the 67th Special Operations Squadron.