New memorial planned to honour Downham Market air crews

G/V of the old RAF base at Downham Market
G/V of the old RAF base at Downham Market
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A unique memorial honouring Second World War air crews is to be installed in Downham.

The RAF Downham Market Bexwell Memorial Trust is working to raise £250,000 as part of the project to commemorate the fallen crew members more than 70 years on.

Presentation to students who have restored the Stone Cross War memorial at Bexwell as part of their Duke of Edinburgh silver award.

Presentation to students who have restored the Stone Cross War memorial at Bexwell as part of their Duke of Edinburgh silver award.

Ann Brownsell, chairwoman and trustee, said: “These people gave the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home from missions flown from RAF Downham Market Bexwell Airfield.

“We are proud to introduce the concept of this exciting and innovative memorial honouring the fallen, whilst at the same time, keeping their memory alive.

“In this way we will enable both young and old alike to understand the importance of the airfield and the bravery of the aircrews.”

The trust will be holding its first open day and fundraising event on Saturday, April 15, and Monday, April 17, at Downham Home and Garden Store, which is one of the project’s sponsors.

A scale model of memorial will be unveiled for the first time then, to give a better idea of what is planned.

The trust is calling for help with donations towards the memorial and for people to sponsor the inscribing of a crew member’s name or of the complete crew.

Trust members are also hoping to hear from anyone who might have known about anyone who flew from RAF Downham from 1942 to 1945.

Mrs Brownsell said: “My great-great uncle was one of the lost crews – so I have a personal interest in this as well as a historical one.

“There were more than 6,000 members of personnel at Bexwell, so there was an awful lot of change for a very small market town.”

More than members of the crew were shot down and killed during the war.

The average age of the crews was between 18 and 25 – Mrs Brownsell’s great-great uncle Flight Engineer Sgt Victor Leonard Twydell was just 21 when he died.

He took off from Downham in February 1944 but was shot down by flak after a mission to Kiel Harbour in Germany.

“It’s important that people know about this and that the memory lives on, because without them doing what they did, this country would be a very different place,” she added.

For more information, visit: www.rafdownhammarket.com