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First official recognition for wartime tragedy

This plaque is the first official recognition of the "Imber Incident" Photo: ITV West

A memorial service has taken place to mark the 70th anniversary of a 'friendly fire' attack which killed 25 people on Salisbury Plain.A service was held at St Giles' Church, Warminster, a few miles from the attack at Imber.For years, the real story was hushed up by the Government. The true facts about the incident, in which 71 people were also injured, have only just come to light.At the ceremony was George Travers, 82, from Canterbury in Kent. His brother, Corporal Ernest Travers was 23 when he died.Mr Travers said he understood why the military covered up the facts during the war, but he should have been told afterwards.It happened on April 13 1942. They were preparing exercises for a visit by Prime Minister Winston Churchill a few days later. They hoped to show how Hurricane aircraft could attack armoured vehicles on the ground.Five hurricanes flew over and hit their targets - mock tanks. But a sixth came across piloted by an American 'Sergeant MacLachlan'. In the mist, he mistook a viewing area for a real target and unleashed the Hurricane's cannon fire.A week later, he himself would be killed over the skies of France.Churchill still made the visit a few days later, and the actual visit passed without incident. He was told of the tragedy.For years people in Warminster knew of 'The Imber Incident', but only now do they, and the families of the dead, know what really happened.

The plaque has been blessed at a memorial service in Warminster Credit: ITV West

Our Wiltshire reporter Robert Murphy was at the service remembering those lost in the "Imber Incident". Here is his full report.