Hunstanton is to officially become twinned with the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron marking a link forged in the midst of tragedy.
The Squadron played a famous role in the rescue effort following the terrible 1953 floods which claimed the lives of 16 Americans and 15 of their English neighbours living along South Beach Road in Hunstanton on January 31, 1953.
On Thursday of last week, the retired businessman’s associaton, the Hunstanton and District Probus Club, welcomed two members of the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron to their monthly lunch at the Le Strange Arms hotel in Old Hunstanton.
Capt John Kauzlaric and Capt Cooper Livingston were in town for a meeting with the Civic Society’s Twinning Group. to discuss the formal joining together.
One person who will be always grateful to the American is Hunstanton resident, Neil Quincey.
Four members of the 67th risked their lives when they took him onboard their amphibious craft in a brave attempt to rescue his wife and three children from their home, which was flooded to a depth of eleven feet at the time.
This attempt failed when the vessel capsized within yards of Neil’s house, but later they were all taken to safety by Reis Leming, who was subsequently awarded the George Medal for his single-handed rescue of 27 victims. Neil’s next-door neighbour, USAF Sergeant Freeman A Kilpatrick received the same award for saving the lives of 18 of his neighbours.
For nearly 60 years a memorial in the esplanade gardens was the only visible sign of the shared grief and the acts of heroism that united Hunstanton with the 67th, which was activated at RAF Sculthorpe in November 1952.
However, since the Squadron’s official historian, RAF Flt Sgt Mark Service, invited Hunstanton Civic Society to join in commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 67th (now based at RAF Mildenhall) by inviting the Squadron back to the town in 2012, the bond has strengthened, to the point where ‘Twinning’ seems the obvious next step, following ‘Freedom’ of the town being granted to the 67th in 2014.
Altogether 326 people were recorded as dying due to the North Sea floods of January 31, 1953, in Britain. Another 1,800 died in the Low Countries and hundreds more at sea.