Memorial Service Moon Hayes Cross, June 5th
In spite of a rather overcast morning there was a good turn out of ex service personal, local people and visitors from further a field, these included a party of French visitors from Le Mesnil-Vigot, a small Normandy town twinned with Churchingford.
Mike Venn of the Churchstanton Royal British Legion and the Rev John Woollam of Newhouse Chapel oversaw the proceedings. After the Last post was sounded two minutes silence was broken by the sound of Reveille, both calls played faultlessly by our local bugler Stephen Salter.
Three poppy wreathes were then laid below the memorial plaque, the first by Sea Cadet Andrew Appleby on behalf of the South West Airfields Trust, and the Royal British Legion branches of Churchstanton and Upottery. (Andrew was one of the 68 children from Upottery School who took part in the memorial dedication 2005)
Col Troy Krause of the United States Army who is stationed at Warminster then lay a second on behalf of his Country and its Armed Forces.
Monsieur Jacques Bourles; laid the final wreath on behalf of the people of Normandy.
With this part of the ceremony concluded, the Upottery D-Day veteran C/47 (Dakota) appeared right on time and gave a graceful meaningful fly past over the Ulcombe valley, sadly this is the last scheduled tribute it will fly over Upottery, as it has been sold by its current owner and is due to return to The United States.
All of us involved in the Moon Hayes Memorial owe a great deal of gratitude to the owner of this historic aircraft, also his personal pilot Andrew Davenport who has gone to such lengths to support us on many occasions in spite of some poor weather conditions, rather like those experienced on this occasion, thus preventing him flying the original D-Day route to Normandy after our flypast. This was flown next day
On Behalf of the South West Airfields Heritage Trust, the Churchstanton and Upottery Royal British Legion we would like to thank all those who took part or contributed in anyway.
This year’s annual ceremony which is designed to coincide with the nearest Sunday to the anniversary of D-Day June 6th 1944 fell on June 5th. This is the date that over thirteen hundred American paratroops were dispatched from the airfield just before midnight.
This represented around 10% of a much larger mission involving fifteen different English Airfields and 821 C/47 transport aircraft, between them carrying over thirteen thousand American paratroops who were to be dropped behind enemy lines on the Cherbourg peninsular. Their main purpose was the capture of key points, disrupt enemy communications and open up corridors from the code named Utah beach and fight off counterattacks, allowing the main invasion force arriving from the sea at dawn to advance in land.
Simultaneously four thousand paratroops of the British 6th Airborne were landing behind the beaches near Caen, successfully carrying out the same type of objectives.