Veterans muster for memorial unveiling
British and American war veterans honoured the unveiling of a war memorial in Watton.Ex-servicemen all in their 80s joined over 100 members of the public on Saturday for the re-dedication service of a memorial to the men of the 25th Bomb Group - a special reconnaissance group based in the town during the final year of the war.
British and American war veterans honoured the unveiling of a war memorial in Watton.
Ex-servicemen all in their 80s joined over 100 members of the public on Saturday for the re-dedication service of a memorial to the men of the 25th Bomb Group - a special reconnaissance group based in the town during the final year of the war.
Guests of honour, including Air Commodore Sir Timothy Elworthy, Baroness Shephard of Northwold and local dignitaries, paid tribute to the men who died in the conflict. They were joined by Bill Siler, president of the 25th Bomb Group Association, and Byron Pollitt who travelled from California especially for the event.
“They have died so we may live in freedom,” said Col Houston Waring from RAF Lakenheath.
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The Act of Remembrance and re-dedication of memorials was held by the Venerable Martin Gray, Archdeacon of Lynn, and Baroness Shephard awarded a series of accolades to exceptional children from local schools.
Jan Godfrey, from Wartime Watton Memorial, said: “The awards were made possible thanks to some cash left over when the first memorial was put in place.
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“It was a good turnout and we were honoured to have among us war veterans and members of their families from America.”
The memorial to the men of the 25th Bomb Group was first erected and dedicated 24 years ago and positioned just inside the main gate at RAF Watton. It was joined some years later by a memorial to the RAF.
Eighty four American veterans attended the original unveiling and dedication and a similar event took place a year later for the Blenheim propeller which is the RAF memorial. The propeller came from one of the Blenheim aircraft shot down at Aalborg, Denmark which was recovered and returned to Watton by a Danish scenes of crime officer.
A few years ago the Wartime Watton Project Team were required to relocate the memorials, as the Ministry of Defence were selling the technical site. They were later moved to the south of the site near the old officers' mess which remained open as a joint RAF and community building and housed the Wartime Watton exhibition for 10 years. Following the demolition of the building, the memorials have now been returned to their original positions.
They can now be easily viewed by members of the 25th Bomb Group and their families. It is here that they will remember the US group's history.