FAMILY, friends and a rescuer of the airmen involved in the Sutton Wick plane crash have marked its 60th anniversary.

The devastating crash near Drayton killed 15 members of the RAF, two civilians and eight police dogs on March 5, 1957.

Six decades on, a crowd gathered at the memorial in Sutton Wick Lane, including family members from as far off as Wales and Blackburn, to honour those who died.

The Blackburn Beverley heavy transport aircraft, which was carrying personnel from 53 Squadron from RAF Abingdon to Cyprus, crashed into a row of homes in the hamlet after its back-up engine failed.

Among those paying their respects was 85-year-old Philip Richards, who rescued two men from the wreckage and subsequently received the George Medal for his bravery.

The Carterton resident said: "To be here on the 60th anniversary is a privilege - it is a very proud day to see everyone remembering these men and I have met so many people."

Mr Richards proudly wore his medal as he described the moment the plane crashed into the village as he worked at a nearby farm.

He said: "I heard the plane coming and actually saw it hit the tree and take out the middle before it crashed.

"I turned the tractor off and just ran straight in, it was just a huge wreckage all on fire.

"I could see a pair of legs so I ran and picked him up to get him out and put him by the apple tree.

"Then I went back in and got another guy out and he was actually completely alight - I used something I would guess from the plane wreckage to protect my face from the heat and got him out.

"I didn't know what to do but put him in the trough to put the fire out."

Mr Richards said he had seen both men following the incident and went on to make one of the men a godfather to his child later on in life.

Also at the memorial were several family members including Irene Tunstall, from Blackburn, who was paying her respects to her brother James.

She said: "I remember I heard about the plane crash on the one o' clock news but my mum said not to worry as my brother wasn't supposed to be flying - but he had taken someone else's place."

Ms Tunstall added: "It is just nice that something like this is in place to remember him and all the others today."

After a church service the crowd gathered around the wooden memorial made by wood carver Brian Eastoe, who was in the RAF from 1952 to 1954.

He said: "It is good that at least for one morning a year these men are remembered for what they did for our country."

Community groups and military personal also joined the memorial including members of the RAF Police Association, local councillors and the deputy lieutenant of Oxfordshire Dr Kate Tiller.