MILLIONS observed a national silence to remember those who lost their lives in conflict and every town has its own tragedies.

In Bolton, countries were united as hundreds gathered to remember the crew of a bomber which crashed into the moors 75 years ago this week.

MARY NAYLOR reports.

IN 1943 a frosty moonlit night was marred as a twin-engined bomber plummeted into the Anglezarke Moors killing everyone on board.

It was coming apart as it fell according to eye witnesses and all six crew died in the crash which “shook the ground”, according to PC Swift who wrote a first-hand account of the disaster.

Royal Australian Air Force Flight Sgt Joseph B Timperon from Australia was piloting the craft.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the Wellington Bomber Zulu 8799 crash, which happened in the early hours of November 16, 1943, although confusingly the memorial on the moors says November 12.

On Sunday hundreds of walkers, cyclists and ramblers, along with 17 members of Bolton Mountain Rescue Team made the annual journey to the hilltop war memorial, which is east of Anglezarke Reservoir off Hodge Brow at Lead Mines Clough.

Steve Fletcher, a BT employee who has been volunteering with the rescue team for 17 years attended for the sixth time.

He spoke of the importance of the small local tradition: "I think when I remember the sacrifice people made, whether on the frontline or in this case, coming back from a training mission ­— It doesn't matter what the circumstances were it matters that they paid the ultimate price by being part of the effort."

After the hike to the memorial the 300 or so congregation listened to the BBC radio broadcast from the Cenotaph before observing the national two minute silence. Hymns were sung and prayers read out and a recording of a poem written by the mother of the pilot was heard.

The national anthems of the UK and Australia were also played.

Mr Fletcher said: "It's pretty quiet [on the hill top] and the rain stopped just as we started the service."

The remembrance event was made extra special by the attendance of family members of the pilot, who had flown from Australia to remember their uncle.

Flight Sgt Timperon's niece Melody Pounsett from Adelaide and nephew James Tiddy from Queensland made the more than 10,000 mile journey to remember him. They thanked those who took the time and effort to remember their uncle and his colleges on the windy hillside.

This is not the first time relatives of the crew have attended and Mr Fletcher said there were plans for Flight Sgt Timperon's sister, now in her 80s, to make the journey soon.

With Flight Sgt Timperon, Royal Air Force Sgts Eric R Barnes (airbomber), Joseph B Hayston (airgunner), Robert S Jackson (navigator), George E Murray (navigator) and Matthew Mouncey (airgunner) also lost their lives in the air crash.

The memorial was erected in 1955 by the Rotary Club of Horwich and was created using a repurposed gatepost.

It has become tradition for Bolton Mountain Rescue to also accompany the walkers to pay their respects and to keep an eye on the walkers to ensure they do not encounter any difficulties.

Mountain Rescue volunteer Chris Greenhalgh revealed that in the past the team has had to take a man to hospital who suffered an angina attack while hiking to the memorial.

Chorley Ramblers organise the event every year, beginning in 1993 with rambler Eric Unsworth who wanted to hold a small service to honour the six men who died nearby.

The next year attendance grew and it has become an annual tradition. In 2000, because of the numbers heading up to the memorial the Mountain Rescue Team joined the service.

Mr Unsworth researched the crash and thanks to his efforts the poem written by the Flight Sgt Timperon's mother was discovered. She wrote the poem when she learned of his death and it was recorded by a woman living in nearby Brinscall.

It is also thanks to Mr Unsworth that the Australian National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair, is able to be played at the service. He got in touch with the Royal Australian Air Force asking how he could secure a copy of their anthem and they were kind enough to post Mr Unsworth a copy.