I wrote about RAF Ramsbury earlier in the year, and touched on the part it played in World War Two.
Today the site has been returned to agriculture and almost none of the original structure remains, although if you look at aerial photos you can clearly see the shape of the perimeter. Until this year if you were walking through the site at ground level you might see the odd concrete block but nothing to tell you of the part the airfield played in D-Day and the liberation of Europe. This has now changed, as on 9th June 2019 the RAF Ramsbury Memorials were dedicated and unveiled.
One of the memorials is close to the only remaining part of the original runway, and commemorates the activity of the USAF 437th Troop Carrier Group who transported troops of the US Airbourne Division into France on D-Day and into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden in September 1944. As you stand on the site today in rural Wiltshire it is hard to imagine the transport aircraft thundering down the runway before taking troops directly to the battlefront.
If you make your way from the runway site over to Burnt Wood you will find a memorial plaque called Ramsbury at War 1939-1945 which tells the story of the surrounding villages in wartime who welcomed the American troops into their communities.
Then following the public footpath, walk into Burnt Wood and you will find 420 new trees planted to commemorate 100 years since the Armistice in 2018, and 100 years since the formation of the RAF. The trees are now accompanied by a memorial which pays tribute to this.
All of the memorials are fitted to concrete blocks which formed part of the original RAF Ramsbury runway. It is important not to forget the past and these memorials are a fitting tribute to the people who served in this place during those difficult war years. They are also a tangible link to the past, where the families of the Americans who were based here can visit and honour their service.
All of the memorials are situated along public footpaths so accessible to all who want to visit.
9th June 2019 - The unveiling of the memorials
I feel privileged to have attended the dedication and unveiling of these memorials. The weather was kind, and the turnout much larger than expected. Hundreds of people from far and wide attended the ceremonies, including veterans and members of the armed forces. It was wonderful to see current members of the USAF 437th Operations Group in attendance. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, they travelled a long way to honour their predecessors who served in this place during 1944.
As the Vice Commander of the 437th talked of the strong bond between the USAF, the RAF and the people of Ramsbury a USAF C17 flew right over our heads and circled around. A wonderful end to what was a very moving day.