New memorial unveiled to honour former Sedgeford base crews
A memorial to all the air crews stationed at Sedgeford airfield during two World Wars was dedicated on Saturday.
It was unveiled by William Barber, who now uses the land as a chicken farm, after Kenneth Bannerman, the director general of a national body, the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust, had welcomed guests, including borough mayor Nick Daubney, with a brief history of the airfield.
Then former Air-Vice Marshal, the Venerable Robin Turner, dedicated the memorial.
It is the latest to be erected by the Trust which is attempting to record for posterity every one of the nearly 3,000 fighter, bomber, training and dummy airfields built across the country since early in the last century.
In the First World War the airfield was initially a night landing ground for fighter aircraft before being converted into a training base.
In the Second World War it successfully operated as a decoy airfield with fake canvas and wood aeroplanes and hangars from 1940 -1944 proving it’s worth by attracting an attack by the Luftwaffe.
The Trust’s aim is to make sure the many airfields stretching from the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles down to the South coast which, in the main, have been converted back to industrial or residential building or farmland, are not forgotten. Memorials are expected to have been built at 200 sites by the end of the year.
Sedgeford airfield which still has remnants of the buildings constructed to service the various units stationed there is in better hands than most.
Expert archaeologists taking part in work on a nearby Anglo-Saxon hamlet on the banks of the Heacham River are also taking a close look at the site.
Following the unveiling, guests headed to the village’s St Margaret’s Church for the launch of a new book, Sedgeford Aerodrome and the aerial conflict over north west Norfolk in the First World War.
Author Gary Rossin, a SHARP project director, has assembled a range of documents and pictures of the site to explain its development in the context of events such as the Zeppelin air raids on Lynn and Yarmouth.
He said: “I was particularly fascinated by the reaction of Lynn mayor Holcombe Ingleby who was convinced that the raid on Lynn had been guided by agents on the ground using the lights of their cars
“He made sufficient claims for the matter to be raised in Parliament. However, as later enemy records show that the type of targets intended were of rather more significance than isolated Norfolk villages, we have to conclude there was little reality in his claims.”
“But as a consequence, once the threat from the air became clear, there was demand that defences be stepped up, including aircraft to combat the Zeppelins.
“Initially started as an emergency landing site for Royal Naval Air Service aircraft from Yarmouth, Sedgeford soon became a major training establishment for the Royal Navy Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps and eventually for the RAF.
“We’ve been delighted at SHARP to make a contribution to the history of the airfield by bringing our researches together in this book.”