A remembrance project at Ramsbury’s old airfield will mark 100 years since the Armistice and the formation of the RAF.
The Ramsbury Airfield Remembrance Project, supported by The Kennet Valley at War Trust, local landowner and farmer Peter Wilson and local volunteers, will rejuvenate a small wood next to the airfield with trees donated by The Woodland Trust; and a Memorial will be erected to remember all the servicemen and women who served there during WW2.
The Background to the Project
Claire Costello was a village Parish Councillor when she heard about the Woodland Trust’s campaign offering free trees to plant in remembrance to coincide with the 100th anniversary of The Armistice.
However, with no village space suitable for a Remembrance wood, Claire began scouring the area and soon realised that locally there was the stronger, natural link to WW2 war-time activities at RAF Ramsbury — the old airfield of which concrete remains are still visible today.
She discovered that while it is possible to walk around the area and see remnants of what were once vast concrete runways, there is currently no way of keeping alive the story of the part this area played in D-Day and the liberation of Europe. A project to link trees, “Remembrance” and the airfield was born.
Claire and Raine Cully approached local historian Roger Day and modern conflict archaeologist Mike Relph from the Kennet Valley at War Trust, which works to keep alive the links with the area’s WW2 history and provide educational opportunities to schools and visitors.
They met at Littlecote House Hotel (where much wartime planning took place for the D-Day landings) and agreed to take the project forward. The next task was to find a location to plant trees. Luckily Peter Wilson, a Froxfield farmer and landowner was immediately enthusiastic and agreed that 400-plus saplings could be planted to rejuvenate Burnt wood, immediately next to the airfield.
The small group formed a committee with the aim to install a suitable Remembrance Plaque to go with the new trees, as well as an information board to explain to visitors the role the airfield played in WW2.
Claire says: “Slowly, but surely, as people heard about the project, donations were promised and individuals came forward who wanted to help. We had a major donation from the Capricorn Foundation, on behalf of the estate of Mr. Harry Hyams, of Ramsbury. This along with donations from other local landowners, charitable trusts, and individuals ensured the project would not only realise its initial objectives, but we would be able to erect a Memorial on the main runway, which today crosses the public rights of way. It was exciting to see how our small project seemed to grow and gain a momentum all of its own.”
Talk & Exhibition 7.30pm (for 8pm)Weds 24 October, Ramsbury Royal British Legion Club
The group has commissioned a local stonemason Sam MacArthur of Ramsbury Stonemasons to create the memorials, and the artwork is in progress for the Remembrance plaque, the information board, and the Memorial stone. Concrete blocks from RAF Ramsbury airfield will be used.
Tree planting at Ramsbury airfield 10am – 3pm Saturday 10 November
Ramsbury Cub Scouts, schoolchildren and their parents from Ramsbury Primary School, will join volunteers. More tree planters are needed, and can come and go to fit in with other commitments. Please get in touch with Claire, [email protected] if you would like to help.
Commemoration Service at Ramsbury Airfield May/June 2019: (Date to be confirmed).
It will be 75 years since the last minute planning for D-Day was being undertaken at Littlecote House. Visitors, guests, and locals will be invited to gather at Ramsbury Airfield for a commemoration service, where we will officially unveil the information board, and then view the Remembrance Plaque and the Memorial stone. Claire says, “This will be a fitting tribute, we hope, to add to the other memorials locally that honour all the men and women — some local, some from the Commonwealth, Europe and, of course, from the USA — who joined forces and many gave their lives in defence of our freedoms.” Afterwards, guests will join the committee and volunteers for refreshments at Littlecote House, where the Kennet Valley at War Trust has a small museum.