Mon, 07 Aug 2017
A PIECE of Second World War history has been salvaged from a Thatcham back garden by a local history group.
What had been used as a garden shed turned out to be a part of West Berkshire’s wartime history.
Glider crates were used to transport Waco CG4A gliders during the Second World War.
The gliders were most famously used to transport paratroopers into Normandy ahead of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
RAF Greenham Common, which was turned over to the USAAF Ninth Air Force in 1943, became a staging ground for the invasion force and saw thousands of crates appear at the eastern end of the common.
The gliders were disassembled and shipped in the crates to an airfield, where they were later reconstructed by mechanics.
A shantytown soon appeared at Greenham as the empty glider boxes became accommodation and workshops for the men involved in their construction.
Trustee at The Kennet Valley at War Trust Tim Green said that the trust had been alerted to the Second World War relic lying in a garden in Chapel Street.
And they stepped into action when they heard that the property was being sold and the crate, now a shed, was due to be demolished
“We decided that we would attempt to salvage and rescue it,” Mr Green said.
“We are pretty confident it would have come from Greenham Common – where thousands would have been delivered before D-Day.”
The crate is labelled part one of five and Mr Green said that trustees had been excited to find silhouettes of carpenters’ tools hidden under the post-war interior.
Using their knowledge and a quick internet search, Mr Green said that trustees had matched the silhouettes to those of American army tools used during the war.
“We came to the conclusion that it was used as a carpenter’s workshop at Greenham Common,” he said, adding that the crate had later been used as a tailors.
“A number of people would have acquired them and used them as sheds after the war as they were sturdily built,” he said.
“This one seemed to be a tailor’s workshop, but we’ve not been able to find out who it belonged to.
“Not all of them have lasted as well as this one did. This one has been very well looked after and is in remarkable condition.”
The glider crate has been put into storage and is planned to form part of an exhibition.
The trust thanked the crate’s previous owner Norma Jones for her patience while it arranged for the recovery of the crate.