A Suffolk rugby club held an emotional memorial service for a group of players and members who died in a tragic plane crash 50 years ago.

Eighteen members of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Union Football Club died on March 3, 1974, when a Turkish Airlines plane crashed into the Ermenonville Forest, near Paris. 

On Saturday, the club hosted a memorial service and lunch at the ground before the men's first team's match against Dorking RFC, which was attended by more than 300 people.

East Anglian Daily Times: Memorial statue for the 18 who lost their livesMemorial statue for the 18 who lost their lives (Image: Beanstalk Media)

Craig Germeney, chair of the club, said: "It is massively important to us and a big part of our history.

"It is the fabric of our club. We are a community club and the community was massively affected at the time and people rallied together from the community of rugby as a whole.

"We are very much about keeping and creating a legacy so that the club continues to remember what happened, especially as we are reaching our 100 year anniversary next year," he added. 

East Anglian Daily Times: The memorial service was held before a first team game on SaturdayThe memorial service was held before a first team game on Saturday (Image: Beanstalk Media)

East Anglian Daily Times: A tribute to one of the victimsA tribute to one of the victims (Image: Beanstalk Media)

During the memorial service on Saturday, Rev Canon Tiffer Robinson gave a speech and members of St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir performed songs to the crowd of more than 300 attendees. 

Mr Germeney said the club has been recognising the anniversary throughout the season with a black kit that includes the names of the 18 players who lost their lives down the sides. 

The club also created 'Room 18', a tribute room designed with 18 coat hooks hung on the walls along with the names of the men who died in the tragedy. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Rev. Canon Tiffer Robinson gave a speech at the eventRev. Canon Tiffer Robinson gave a speech at the event (Image: Beanstalk Media)

Roland Nice, 86, was a member of the Bury St Edmunds RUFC committee when the plane crash took place. 

Mr Nice had been a member since 1955 and had also attended Framlingham College with two of the men who lost their lives, Brian Arthur and Bryan Ellis. 

He said: "I remember we arranged a cathedral service for all of the 18 that were killed and I was a steward at it.

East Anglian Daily Times: Families laid floral tributes at the memorial statueFamilies laid floral tributes at the memorial statue (Image: Beanstalk Media)

"I remember the children of the boys were there, and that really upset me. Their dads had died, and the children were walking down the aisle. I knew some of the children too, and it just really upset me.

"We also arranged the memorial which is in the rugby club as well, with the names of all of the 18." 

On March 3, 1974, 18 members were on a flight back to the UK after watching a rugby match in Paris. 

The plane had taken off from Orly Airport before, minutes later, it came down in th Ermenonville Forest. 

All of the passengers and crew on board died in the crash. 

Mr Nice said: "I was offered to go on that trip on the Thursday before and I turned it down because I don't fly, so that was just luck."