The Ramsbury Airfield Remembrance Project brought veterans, servicemen and members of the public from near and far – as far as South Carolina – to its final dedication ceremony on Sunday (June 9).
75 years since the D-Day landings Deputy Commander of the United States Air Force 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, Colonel Patrick Winstead, delivered the keynote speech at RAF Ramsbury’s memorial dedication.
This USAF unit is the direct descendant of the 437 Troop Carrier Group which operated out of Ramsbury during the second world war. The men and women at the ceremony had been working with the RAF during their stay in Britain.
The members of the 437th Airlift Wing joined World War II veterans, with those who served after the war and those who serve now – the young men and women of the RAF, the British Army, and the Marlborough Army & Air Cadets, and Calne Army Cadets.
Colonel Mike Relph, made a speech on behalf of the project’s committee, and added his own tribute to those who served.
Two memorials were unveiled – the runway and woodland memorials. The Revd. Canon Simon Weeden led the Service of Dedication, and at the runway memorial, the 437th Chaplin, Lt. Col. Craig Abee, joined him.
Members of the First Ramsbury Scout Group, Ramsbury Primary school pupils and the Cadets unveiled the memorials.
This was the culmination of nearly two years of work by The Ramsbury Airfield Remembrance Project. The committee thanked RAF Benson and the Battle Axe Party who provided an honour guard at the two memorials – and also those who had donated to the project and especially the landowner, Peter Wilson.
The rain stopped, the sun shone and people came from near and far to pay their respects. And, as they did so, out of the stratus clouds a C17 approached RAF Ramsbury and slowly made its way across the sky to the southeast horizon.
This prompted Col Winstead to remind people of the 437th’s D-Day tasks: “75 years ago fifty such planes and gliders took off for Normandy, and then another fifty, and then another, and going back as soon as they were able – and think about the glider pilots, those guys weren’t going to fly back here – they had to fight their way back, think about that.”
You can watch and hear Col Winstead’s speech at this link.