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Bleasby Community Website

Bleasby Aircrews Memorial

BLEASBY AIRCREWS MEMORIAL

STATUS REPORT AND FUTURE POSSIBLE PLANS – APRIL 2017

Objective

The construction of a new architect designed memorial for the aircrewmen who died in or near Bleasby in WWII.

40 names of aircrew who died in 7 incidents are to recorded on plaques on the memorial (see latest draft of list and planned wording attached), - plus also a plaque for the unidentified airmen who also died in the area.

The Aircrews Memorial Memorial

The plans for the design and location of the memorial have been developed by a small team of Bleasby villagers, interacting with the selected stonemason, Michael Wright of D & M Stonemasons, Redhill Cemetery, Nottingham.

The design was conceived by a retired architect, and manufacturing feasibility has been done by Michael Wright.(see sketch attached)

The memorial will be constructed of polished granite in two colours, and the lettering engraved and highlighted. (see illustrative photos attached).

The firm quote for the work is £9,000 plus VAT. (copy attached)

The Bleasby Parish Council (BPC) has agreed to be the long-term owner and custodian of this Memorial, and will place the order. This will mean that the memorial will be covered by the BPC insurance during installation and commissioning on site, and thereafter. It also means that the BPC can recover the VAT on the invoice price.

The funding raised so far for the new Memorial (c£5.9K) is presently held by the Treasurer and Church Wardens of St Marys Church. When it is time to place the order for the Memorial in the late Spring of 2017, £5,500 will be transferred to the BPC.

The balance of the cost is to be funded by a “Matched Funding” Supporting Local Communities Fund Grant of up to £3,500 which has been awarded for the project (see copy letter attached).

The terms for the manufacture of the Memorial are 50% of the price payable with order, and 50% payable on completion.

Foundation ground work will also be required. Offers have been received from individuals to pay for this work, but there is some funding available as contingency held by the Treasurers. It should therefore be assumed that this work is fully funded.

Location of Memorial

Various possible locations for the siting of the new memorial were considered, including in St Marys Churchyard, and in the Glebe Field.

However, the site that has emerged as being both available for the Project and approved for its use, is on the corner of Bleasby Road, and Highcross Hill in Goverton.

The design of the Memorial and this location have been risk assessed by Notts. CC Highways, and it has given the BPC a licence to place the Memorial at this roadside site.

Originally, this site seemed to be very appropriate, as it was a high profile, visible location, and was also roughly the mid point between the crash site of the two Lancasters over High Cross and the Wellington that crashed near to where Bleasby Primary School stands today.

However, further eye witness information and research has now revealed further aircraft crashes and incidents near to Hazelford and RAF Syerston, and therefore the original mid point concept no longer applies.

At present, the plan is, however, to locate the Memorial at the Goverton corner roadside site, although this location is not ideal if we plan to hold an unveiling ceremony for the reasons discussed below.

There is still time for the BPC as owner of the land to consider the relocation of the Memorial to a small area of the Glebe Field. My suggestion would be that a small corner of the field next to the roadside/church car park might be a suitable site, with the fencing being re-aligned to enable roadside visibility. The tailfin part of the Memorial has been designed for use as a seat, so with hopefully appropriate respect, the memorial is available as a public amenity, particularly for visitors to the Memorial for a moment of quiet reflection.

The Glebe Field is in the village Conservation Area, and any implications/permissions required to do this would need to be considered and managed.

Villager opinion would also need to be gauged carefully before proceeding with such a relocation, as emotions have run high in the past with regard to possible uses of the Glebe Field.

Nevertheless, I think that this possible location should at least be considered now, as for the reasons explained below, it will make the task of organising a safe and manageable unveiling ceremony considerably easier.

Unveiling Ceremony

The date selected provisionally for the unveiling of the Memorial is Saturday. 1st September, 2018, which is exactly 75 years to the day after the mid air collision of the two Lancaster bombers over High Cross. This is achievable if the order for the manufacture of the Memorial is placed in the next few months.

Broadly, I think that there are three possibilities (although there may be more) for an unveiling ceremony:

  1. No formal unveiling ceremony, just an announcement that the Memorial has been installed and is there to be viewed. This could be followed at some point by a small church service of dedication perhaps organised by St Marys Church.
  2. A properly organised unveiling public ceremony is arranged here in Bleasby with the attendance and possible full participation of the RAF, and almost certainly representatives of the other four (possibly five) air forces that contributed servicemen to the war effort and whose servicemen died here – RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF and Polish AF, and possible Eire.
  3. A properly organised remote unveiling ceremony at another nearby location, for example at Southwell Minster, where facilities are already generally in place for a large gathering of people for an event, and there is no disruption here in Bleasby. An unveiling might be relayed by WiFi link during a service in the Minster.

My personal preference is plan for option 2 with a properly organised event here is Bleasby, but this should only be contemplated in my opinion, if it has the enthusiastic support of a majority  of Bleasby villagers who accept fully  the possible disruption to their daily lives on the day, and we also have a better understanding of, and commitment to, the human effort required and costs of arranging such an event.

Thoughts on a Bleasby Unveiling Ceremony

To get some measure of possible interest in an unveiling ceremony, I have recently had informal discussions with a retired Air Vice Marshall Chaplain of the RAF, and he made further soundings with the office of the Lord Lieutenant of Nottingham who immediately expressed a keen interest, and sent the inquiry on to the Chief of the Defence Staff, RAF who also expressed his support and interest.

From these inquiries, I have concluded that if we decide collectively to organise a full unveiling ceremony here in Bleasby, then we will get the support of the current RAF, which could of course include, weather permitting, an aircraft flypast.

I have also made inquiry of Lady Helen Nall about the unveiling of the Hoveringham Memorial a few years ago. She told me that there were c 450 attendees at the event, which took place on their family owned land, and therefore avoided most of the difficulties that we will face in organising an event in public areas and roads of Bleasby.

If the RAF is actively involved, and the event is publicised, we could expect surviving veterans of Bomber Command as well as other services to attend with their families, as well as relations and descendants of crew members, representatives from the office of the Lord Lieutenant of Nottingham and the NCC, District Council etc., representatives from the other air forces, the British Legion and other forces charities., etc, not to mention, particularly if the weather on the day is kind to us, many interested people from the area – and possibly further afield, and also of course Bleasby villagers.

So as a thought starter, here are a few matters that would need to be considered if this is the chosen option, and a safe and manageable unveiling ceremony is to be held. I think that we should assume at the start that all things, within reason, may be possible – as long as we ask the right people for help in good time.

1    Depending upon the location of the event, it is likely that some Bleasby roads would have to be closed, secured  or restricted for a period, possibly with the help of the police or RAF, as well as volunteer marshalls. The police and the RAF may also be able to help with security arrangements for the day.

2 Access for the disabled to key areas, availability of extra toilet and refuse collection facilities, first aid cover, event marshalling, insurance, risk assessment etc. would need to be put in place.

  1. Land owners of suitable sites at the edge of the village would need to be asked to make land available for car and coach parking for the event. Shuttle buses may be required. If we find that large numbers of visitors with cars are expected, then we might try to arrange for parking high on High Cross Hill on a field overlooking Bleasby, and a Big Screen hired so that the unveiling ceremony can be viewed from there. This site would also be an ideal observation point for any RAF flypast, and of course provides a view of RAF Syerston across the valley, as well as (on a clear day) a glimpse of Lincoln Cathedral. This could only be enabled by agreement and co-operation of the farmers/ landowners.
  2. Request could be made to Midland trains for extra trains to stop at Bleasby station on the day, and possibly also shuttle buses from Southwell and Fiskerton.
  3. Contributions to the day’s events could be arranged with the Bleasby Primary School, St Marys Church, Bleasby Local History Society, the WI, Trent Choir, etc
  4. Catering facilities for the potential numbers could be considered, although this should not be provided free to all, possibly only for selected dignitaries.
  5. Local businesses should be encouraged to open their facilities for the event.
  6. Villagers, especially those living on Main Street and Gypsy Lane, could be encouraged to spruce up their frontages for the day, and a general village wide tidy and spruce up programme could be arranged so that the village is showcased at its best. Some sort of floral displays in appropriate colours could possibly be planned to be created and maintained in various parts of the village.
  7. There will be no entry ticket for the event which will be free. However, parking on private land could be made available for a donation at the driver and passengers’ discretion. We will not be fundraising on the day for the Aircrew Memorial. If the RAF is involved, we could perhaps offer the fundraising opportunity for the day to the RAF Benevolent Fund, possibly sharing with the British Legion? A donation box could be placed in St Marys Church for donations for the support of the church? Other local charities may be considered?

These are just thought starter ideas and concepts. There will be much more to think about.

Funding would be required, probably measured in £000s to kick start the planning of the event, probably initially underwritten by the BPC. However, contributions to the total cost of the day could be sought from Corporate Sponsors, individual donations, grants etc., and therefore at the end of the day, the contribution by the BPC could be quite small.

Some of the benefits from such an event could be long lasting, such as the establishment of floral displays, tidied up signage etc.

However, the BPC would have to be willing to approve agreed expenditure up to a budget limit.

Conclusion

I hope that this paper provides an update on the status of the Bleasby Aircrew Memorial project, and some thought starters for the possible next steps, for consideration by the Bleasby Parish Council.

I will be pleased to provide any further information that may be required.

If it is decided to proceed with an unveiling ceremony here in Bleasby, then the organisation of such an event would require the enthusiastic support from a team of volunteers from the village, hopefully of all ages and interests. I will be happy to play a part in this team.

 

Ken Ogilvie

24th March, 2017

Proposed Wording for Plaques

TAIL PLANE /SEAT

IN MEMORY OF THE AIRCREWMEN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE BLEASBY AREA DURING WWII

“FOR YOUR TOMORROW WE GAVE OUR TODAY”

PLAQUE 1 Main Circle

IN MEMORY OF THE CREW OF

AVRO LANCASTER III  JB 132

OF 61 SQUADRON

WHICH CRASHED ON 1ST SEPTEMBER, 1943

Sq/Ldr Dennis Wellburn  RCAF  27

F/O Roy Clarke  RAAF   26

Sgt John Watson  RAFVR 20

Sgt John Forrest  RAFVR  31

Fl/Lt Richard Davies  RAFVR  31

Sgt Jack Blackett  RAFVR  20

F/O Trevor Joyce  RAFVR  25

Sgt Alan Paterson  RAF 25

 

PLAQUE 2 Main Circle

IN MEMORY OF THE CREW OF

AVRO LANCASTER I  R5698

OF No 1654 HCU

WHICH CRASHED ON 1ST SEPTEMBER, 1943

P/O Joseph MacDonald  RAFVR  30

Sgt George Joyce  RAFVR   19

F/O Walter Jobling  DFC  RAFVR  34

Sgt Edward Jones  RAFVR   20

Sgt George Tough   RAFVR  23

Sgt John Hutchinson  RAF  38

Fl/ Sgt Robert Rashbrook  RAAF  20

 

PLAQUE 3 Main Circle

IN MEMORY OF THE CREWS OF

 304 (POLISH) SQUADRON

 

VICKERS WELLINGTON 1c R1014

WHICH CRASHED ON 6TH FEBRUARY, 1941

Sgt Stanisaw Tofin   PAF  35

Sgt Wojciech Lichota  PAF  32

Sgt Jan Adam Cymborski PAF  35

Sgt Jozef Jonczyk PAF  24

 

VICKERS WELLINGTON 1c R1212

WHICH CRASHED ON 15TH APRIL, 1941

Sgt F/O Rudolf Karol Christman PAF  35

Sgt Wieslaw Leszek Pietruszewski  PAF   22

Sgt Antoni Berger  PAF   26

 

 

PLAQUE 4  Inside Left Tail fin

IN MEMORY OF THE CREW OF

AVRO LANCASTER I  R5703

OF 61 SQUADRON

WHICH CRASHED ON 1ST OCTOBER, 1942

Sq/Ldr George Weston  DFC   RNZAF   23

Sgt Frederick Bellchambers RAFVR    32

P/O George Hawes  RAFVR  22

Sgt John Ramsay  RAFVR  22

F/O Joseph Hanson  DFM  RAF  24

Sgt Jack Robinson  RAFVR   26

P/O Lloyd Gallaway  RCAF  26

 

PLAQUE 5 Inside Right tail fin

IN MEMORY OF ALL AIR CREWMEN WHO DIED

IN INCIDENTS AT RAF SYERSTON INCLUDING

 

AVRO LANCASTER I  W4258

OF 5 LFS ON 27TH MAY, 1944

 

F/O William Lewis   RCAF   22

Sgt Robert Lynch   RCAF   26

Sgt Walter Coldwell  RAFVR   

 

ACI John Thwaites   RAFVR   39

Died of injuries on 10th DECEMBER, 1942