First World War air men are remembered in Little Downham
PUBLISHED: 15:19 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 November 2018
A memorial plaque has been officially unveiled outside Little Downham village hall to commemorate the airfield, whose units and personnel were based locally from 1916 to 1919.
The unveiling took place following the church remembrance service and wreath laying at the War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday.
Jackie Wardle, clerk to Little Downham Parish Council, said: “I was totally surprised to receive an email in 2017 offering the memorial plaque from Airfield of Britain Conservation Trust.
“Locally, we knew of the airfield, but there has always been speculation of where its actual location was.
The Airfield was used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Flying Corp from April 1916 to March 1919.
Royal Aircraft Factory BE2 and BE12 variants fighters of No 75 Squadron initially had Little Downham available to them as a home defence landing ground during World War One.
By the late summer of 1918 the airfield served to assist aircraft of No 192 (Night) TS at Newmarket with their night flying training.
It remained active after the conflict ended and until 1919.
Kenneth Bannerman, founder of the Airfield of Britain Conservation Trust, approached the parish council because they had funds to provide 100 granite markers for old airfields in Britain.
Ms Wardle said: “The council was very pleased to have been contacted by Mr Bannerman and be a part of this great scheme.
“Mr Bannerman has provided the council with his findings and information from a local historian has suggested a site nearby.
“We are now working fast to establish the correct site, so we can add a brass plaque to the memorial frame giving the Airfield’s exact location.”
During the unveiling, Cllr Jo Waters thanked the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust for their gift to the parish and to everyone who had been involved with the installation of the plaque.
Reverend Matt Phillips dedicated the plaque to the parish in remembrance of the courage and dedication of all who volunteered through The Great War.
A purpose-built frame for the plaque was made by Craig Delanoy and, with permission from the village hall committee, it has been set in a flower bed outside the village hall.
Remembrance and Peace variety of roses, donated by Carole Hall, have been planted around it.