Wed, 04 Sept 2019
MEMORIALS to American servicemen who fought and died in the Second World War have been vandalised, just weeks after they were relocated.
Newbury Royal British Legion (RBL) branch secretary Keith Williams said that the scratches on the memorials had appeared over the recent bank holiday weekend.
He said: “We would like to say thank you to the people who defaced the central memorial.
“It looks like they’ve taken a stone or a coin to it.
“It will come up on the tower’s CCTV and the pictures will be handed to the police.
Newbury RBL and Greenham Parish Council had worked together to move the three memorials from Greenham Business Park to the control tower on Greenham Common.
The branch had collected £18,000 to move the memorials and erect two flagpoles, which the parish council had applied and paid for planning permission.
The memorials, commemorating two fatal collisions over the former airbase, were dedicated by Princess Anne in 2012.
Thirty-one paratroopers and two pilots from the 17th Airborne Division were killed when their Horsa glider crashed shortly after take-off from the 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, were erected at the business park.
A service remembering the events is held each year at noon on December 12.
However, Mr Williams said that Americans visiting the tower and wider area knew nothing of the memorials’ existence and wanted to move them to a more prominent location.
Speaking on the move, Mr Williams said: “Everyone thinks it’s marvelous where it is.
“Everyone has been coming in off the common and coming to have a look at them.”
He said that money to move the memorials had been funded by donations collected by Newbury RBL branch president Janine Westropp, including donations from Americans who had read the appeal story on newburytoday.co.uk
The memorials will be officially unveiled outside the control tower at a ceremony at noon on Wednesday, September 18.
Two plaques will also be dedicated on the day, one to former Newbury RBL branch president Lt Col Michael Westropp, for his work in securing Princess Anne to dedicate the memorials.
The second plaque will be dedicated to members of the US 17th Airborne Association for their instrumental work in erecting the first memorial in 1994.