World War Two airmen remembered forever

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PEOPLE from all corners of the country descended on Beck Row at the weekend for a special remembrance ceremony.

Veterans laden with medals and residents from the local community packed into St John’s Church on Saturday for a service of thanksgiving and a memorial dedication.

Every year a special service is held by the Mildenhall Register, an organisation which brings together veterans, relatives and friends with an interest in the RAF Bomber Squadron which operated out of RAF Mildenhall and surrounding airfields during World War Two.

Squadron Leader John Gentleman, chairman of the Mildenhall Register, said: “We wanted some sort of permanent memorial to all those who served at Mildenhall and the satellite areas.

“Those that died tend to get remembered but this is where everybody can be remembered.”

Airmen from the UK and countries all over the world are celebrated for their efforts during the war with a reunion weekend every year.

Conducted by Padre Flight Lieutenant Richard Clements, from RAF Honington, the ceremony began with a parade of the standards and a church service in St John’s Church, brought to an end with the National Anthem.

The congregation then moved outside for the dedication of a special memorial plaque on the church wall, complete with prayers, a remembrance silence and the Last Post.

The memorial plaque was dedicated and blessed and the congregation then moved to the church hall for refreshments laid on by local residents.

George Thompson, 87, travelled all the way from Scotland for the occasion. He was a navigator when he was shot down in 1944 and taken as a prisoner of war.

He said: “This is to recognise all the people who served here, not just the air crews but everyone else that was here too.”

James Coman, 89, from Daventry, was an air gunner and worked in radio radar during the war.

He said: “It’s important that we get our memorial.

“It’s the first time that the Bomber Command has been recognised, but we did our bit.”