Thu, 06 Jun 2019
MEMORIALS to American airmen who died over Greenham Common in the Second World War are to be given a more prominent home.
Newbury Royal British Legion (RBL) and Greenham Parish Council have been given the green light to move three memorial stones from Greenham Business Park to the control tower.
Thirty-one paratroopers and two pilots from the 17th Airborne Division were killed when their Horsa glider crashed shortly after take-off from the Greenham airbase on December 12, 1944.
Three days later, 16 men were killed when two B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 306th bombardment group collided above the common.
Two memorial stones remembering the events, plus a third dedicated to all US servicemen who died in the war, stand at the business park.
The move follows Newbury’s RBL branch secretary Keith Williams noting that Americans visiting the tower were unaware of the memorials’ existence.
Speaking following the move being given the go-ahead, Mr Williams said: “It’s very important to us.
“We want to get it moved and tidied up so we can have an official unveiling prior to the memorial service in December.”
He added that the Legion wanted the memorials in place by September if possible.
The memorials were unveiled and dedicated by Princess Anne in 2012, funded and organised by the Legion and Greenham Trust.
A service remembering the events is held each year at noon on December 12.
The chairman of Greenham Parish Council's planning and highways committee, Dr Tony Vickers, said: “As owners of the control tower, the parish council welcomes the decision of West Berkshire Council planners to approve the move of the USAFmemorials.
“Last year, the November 11 Remembrance Day service was held there for the first time.
“Now the café and visitor centre are open, it makes perfect sense for such ceremonies to take place at the control tower as the British Legion has requested.
“But it was important to do it ‘by the book’ in planning terms.
“We can now complete the landscaping around the tower while at the same time accommodating this feature of Greenham Common’s historic links with our major wartime ally.”
The planning permission achieves half of the requirements to move the memorials, with £3,000 needed for the move.
Those wishing to donate or help with the project can email Mr Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07785 701721.
Approving the plans, West Berkshire Council said that while the site was outside of a settlement boundary, the memorials would be moved to a more suitable location.
The council said that the move to the recently refurbished control tower “could help to attract visitors to the visitor centre and café, improving tourism for this part of Greenham Common.
“The difficulties of visitors in finding the memorial within New Greenham Park would not have encouraged tourism for this area and the control tower at Greenham Common would allow it to be appreciated by many more people.”