A fitting tribute to those lost in battle
PUBLISHED: 16:51 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 May 2010
WE stood there in silence. And for some it was difficult to imagine that just yards away had once seen the hectic activity of war-time. For others it was a time to remember those days in the Second World War when they served here with either the US 55th
WE stood there in silence.
And for some it was difficult to imagine that just yards away had once seen the hectic activity of war-time.
For others it was a time to remember those days in the Second World War when they served here with either the US 55th Fighter Group or the 398th Bombardment Group.
Veterans had gathered - it was said for the last time - to remember those who had not returned from missions across occupied Europe and Germany and to see a memorial unveiled to the 38 men killed in combat who had been based at Station 131 Nuthampstead with the 55th Fighter Group.
It was more than 60 years after the events - but those who had returned had memories of those days long ago when they were playing a vital role in the dark days of war.
The ceremony was epitomised in one line delivered by Dr Russell F Blowers, chaplain of the 55th Fighter Group Association and a veteran himself of Nuthampstead.
He simply said: "May the price they paid never be taken for granted."
Dr Blowers had been invited to unveil the £3,000 memorial which now stands near to the memorial for the men killed while on active service with the 398th Bombardment Group.
The 55th Fighter Group was stationed at Nuthampstead from October 1943 to April 1944.
Dr Blowers said the veterans who had returned for the ceremony had "great memories" of Nuthampstead.
He read out a letter from Major Gen Edward P Giller, who was commanding officer during the war, in which it was said that the ceremony was "symbolic" of the inter-action that always existed between the US servicemen and the residents of Nuthampstead.
Earlier Wallace Blackwell, president of the 398th Bombardment Group Memorial Association, had spoken of the "good British people" and "all their good deeds" during the war.
"They earned our appreciation and our respect," he said.
He said that the unveiling ceremony would probably be the last organised visit that the veterans make to Nuthampstead. "But the 398th will always be here alongside the 55th Fighter Group," he said.
Mr Blackwell then introduced what he described as the "remnants": the veterans who had returned.
In the words of Air Vice Marshall Alan Merriman earlier during the ceremony these were the men who had undertaken "heroic deeds".
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