THE GRAVELEY AIRFIELD STONE(from 1991 report)
Saturday 29th June 1991 saw the climax of a project begun some four years ago by Dennis Foreman. Honorary Organiser of the 35/635 Squadron Reunion Association -the unveiling and dedication of the Stone to commemorate Graveley Airfield and to honour all those who had served there during the War years. As will be seen from photograph, the granite Stone is faced with dark grey marble on are engraved the words of commemoration. It is sited at the entrance to the airfield now leading to the present-day farmhouse and the still-standing Control Tower and Radar and Fire Section huts.
It was a beautiful sunny morning and at noon Mrs Ly Bennett, as patron of the 35 /635 Reunion Association, removed the RAF Ensign to unveil the Stone which was then dedicated by the Revd. Peter Taylor, Vicar of St Peter’s Offord Darcy and honorary Chaplain to the Association. Mrs Bennett said a few welcome words remembering the days when she had visited Graveley with her husband, our “Boss”, and recalling the youth of everyone at that time!
The project had not been without its problems which had been surmounted by Dennis, assisted by Arthur Sykes who lives in Offord and who, apart from organising the setting-down of the Stone, had to cope with the District Council in obtaining planning permission with some help from Taff Jones who had a similar task at Warboys. An appeal for funds had been made and subsequently managed by Bill Stevenson, the entire sum being met by donations from the Association Membership,including a generous amount from twenty six members in Australia and New Zealand. The Association’s thanks were also due to the owner of the land, Mr Eayres, to the manager of Coton Farm, Mr Bailey, and to the stonemason, Mr Corbett for advice and help in the design of the Stone.
From the airfield the large gathering moved to the village of Offord where the Chaplain conducted a brief Service during which a leather bound Roll of Honour handed over to him for safe keeping on behalf of those who lost their lives both in the air and on the ground while serving at RAF Graveley. This beautiful Roll
inscribed on parchment, had been produced by Brian Walker and Wilt Bagulay of Nottingham with the assistance of friends who had helped with the binding and Production to make a truly effective token of respect.
Driving along the road up which we used to cycle from Qfford towards Graveley village one cannot fail to be moved by the sight of the Stone and the memories it brings back of those who served there. The members from Australia and New Zealand who will be taken there on Monday, 17th August 1992 will surely he as
Impressed and feel that their contributions were well worthwhile.
With acknowledgements to “Glimlamp” newsletterof the 35/635 association (now disbanded.)
Note: 635 Squadron was formed from ‘B’ flight of 35 Squadron and ‘C’ flight of 97 Squadron and were based at Downham Market.
The development of the wind farm is infull swing despite local opposition, with the major part of turbines, towers and blades due to start arriving 19th November.
I have received asurances from the developers that the memorial will be respected during the works.
A total of eight towers are planned around the old perimeter track.