Turnstone, by John Maiden, July 11, 2017
The weather on June 27 was not ideal for flying, but Lt Col Bradley Downs did fly a Commando II aircraft over Hunstanton in on his last mission in this country before returning to the USA.
One of those who witnessed this event was Neil Quincey, who just happened to be celebrating his 92nd birthday!
Two years ago Brad, along with other members of his Squadron and their partners, had been guests at Neil’s 90th birthday party, held at the Le Strange Arms Hotel.
As Commander of the 67th Special Operations Squadron, Brad met up with Neil on several occasions during his tour of duty at RAF Mildenhall, because Neil’s involvement with the 67th dates back to the night of January 31 1953, when he and his family were brought to safety from the devastating floods by Reis Leming.
People still ask me why the “Reis Leming Way” sign in the Esplanade Gardens has the dates 1952 and 2012.
This is because the 67th Air Rescue Squadron was activated at RAF Sculthorpe in November 1952 and returned to Hunstanton in November 2012, as the 67th Special Operations Squadron, to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
Unfortunately, someone vandalised the original sign and a new sign was erected before the 67th came back to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the floods.
However, the damaged sign was carefully straightened out and placed on the railings at the cliff end of the footpath.
Until recently the sign still looked as good as new, but ongoing modifications to this area have quite literally left their mark on the sign.
The borough council will doubtless insist that it is restored to mint condition by the contractors before they leave the site.
The “Time and Tide” area seems to suffering from similar problems, if the scuffed coping stones on the pathway are anything to go by. When it is completed, Neil Quincey will not be the only one expecting to see this footpath named in honour of USAF Sergeant Freeman A Kilpatrick.
Freeman was Neil’s neighbour in 1953 and received the George Medal for his part in saving the lives of 18 people by warning them of the impending disaster.
Considering the amount of time and money that has been spent on the Esplanade Gardens, particularly on the so called butterfly shelters, it would surely be reasonable to expect the borough council to fund “Twinning” signs on the approaches to Hunstanton. The Civic Society could provide words and pictures for an interpretation board in the “Time and Tide” area describing the town’s special relationship with the USAF in general and the 67th SOS in particular.