The Dedication of the Upottery-Smeatharpe Airfield Memorial on the Upottery- Churchingford Road 6th June 2005
This took place at Moonhayes Cross by the old WWII sentry box at eleven hundred hours on Monday the 6th of June 2005.
Nothing can come cheaper than the sacrifices of others whatever the cause, so if you can break away from your normal duties on this day please come and join us, the Ceremony will consist of a simple unveiling followed by the laying of 68 British Legion Crosses by children and teachers of Upottery Primary School.
Among those present were a Bugler and local members of the British Legion with their banners. The Reverent John Woolham Pastor of the Newhouse Chapel agreed to over see the proceedings on that day.
Dedication Day Upottery Airfield Smeatharpe June 6th 2005 commenced under a heavy grey sky after a night of continues rain, for at least one of the organisers who lay awake listening to the steady down pour it brought thoughts of the grave concern that must have gone through the minds of those who sixty one years ago were responsible for organising the huge operations for D-Day.
By 1100 hours the rain began to slow down as the crowd began to congregate, and the waiting children gazed out from their coach. At a few minutes before 11am the children congregated by the sentry post at Moonhayes Cross on the Upottery -Churchingford road situated about a half a mile from the main runways. Every road leading to the airfield had a Sentry post one time but only one has survived the passage of time, this is now the site of the Upottery Airfield Memorial Smeatharpe.
Mrs Jean Jarrett whose husband Mike had worked with Robin Gilbert to produce the D-Day exhibition 2004 unveiled the new Memorial plaque, sadly Mike passed away just weeks after the 2004 event.
Before the dedication sixty-eight children from the Upottery Primary School one by one exchanged British legion crosses for key fobs mounted on a prepared board each fob contained the rank, name, unit details and badges engraved in accordance with a name on the memorial plaque.
On parade were British veterans and members of the Churchingford and Upottery British Legion under the control of parade marshal Michael Venn, the Dedication was carried out by the Reverend John Woollam of the Newhouse Chapel which is situated just yards from the airfields parameter track and remained in use through out the war and ever since.
We had with us Col Will Gilbner the American Air Attaché who had driven down from London to be with us, also Lt Greame Stringer RN representing Merryfield and Yeovilton .Air Stations, Corporal Aron Jones from the Parachute Regiment and Andy Guest an ex Marine who runs the Parachute school at near by Dunkeswell, they along with two members of the South West Airfields Trust fell the honour of laying wreathes on behalf of the veterans.
Unfortunately a very brave veteran of the 94th Squadron left America the day before in a vain attempt to attend, only to be denied by a late plane heavy traffic and getting lost at Ilminster just about ten miles short of the Dedication site his calls for help going to the answer phone of an empty house of a SWAHT member who was waiting for a call on his cell phone. So Everett Abbott if you read this our heart goes out to you what a brave attempt you made and how tired you must have been after such an ordeal.
The ceremony closed with the National Anthems after two minutes silence had been declared by the last post from the Trumpet of Ilminster Paul Whaite’s who ended it with the American Reveille.
The crowd had a surprise visit from a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter that hovered and dipped its nose in a salute under a very grey sky.
After that the crowd dispersed with more than one hundred attending a buffet lunch at the aero centre Dunkeswell where five Auster Aircraft dressed in WWII war paint had braved the weather and flown in from near by Eggesford airfield so as the Upottery children had something to see whilst enjoying their picnic lunch.
We are grateful for funding towards the Memorial Dedication Day from;
- The Blackdown Hills Rural Partnership
- The Churchingford and Upottery Parish Councils
- The Churchingford branch of the Royal British Leigion
- We also acknowledge the generosity of the following local firms and Companies; Allglass, Crewkerne for a very generous discount on the glazing.
- Bradford’s, Ilminster For providing the ply board for the cross display free of charge.
- Custom Plastics, Wellington For making and supplying free of charge the Children’s presentation key fobs, also advice on other issues.
- Crudge Coaches, Honiton For providing transport for the Upottery School Children for a very nominal fee.
- We also wish to thank everyone that has helped us in anyway.
The plaque was made and supplied and jointly designed with the Trust by ; PNC Bridport Co. Ltd. The stainless steel frame built and jointly designed with the trust by Solutions Ltd Chard. Their efforts and attention to detail are appreciated
The commemorative plaque was paid for by voluntary donations made at last years D-Day commemorations, our heart felt thanks go out to all those people.
See also the Memorial Role of Honor page.