What role did Steeple Morden play in D-Day landings?

PUBLISHED: 08:27 06 June 2019

Ken Wells's new book Memories of D-Day at Steeple Morden has been released. Picture: Ken Wells

Ken Wells's new book Memories of D-Day at Steeple Morden has been released. Picture: Ken Wells

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A writer formerly of Steeple Morden has penned a book on the village's role in the D-Day landings, which happened 75 years ago today.

Ken Wells's new book Memories of D-Day at Steeple Morden has been released. Picture: Ken Wells Ken Wells's new book Memories of D-Day at Steeple Morden has been released. Picture: Ken Wells

D-Day was the largest combined land, air and naval operation in history, and Ken Wells was keen to write about the the 355th Fighter Group who were based in Steeple Morden.

Mr Wells, who has written multiple books on the village, told the Crow: "Our house was opposite the old airfield so my wife suggested I begin writing about it. My books have all been my own research - I have been to America and met loads of the veterans.

"The latest book, Memories of D-Day in Steeple Morden, took two months to write and it's a limited edition.

"It is very rewarding to finish the book, and it is all the more poignant as I think this will be the last time the veterans will come back.

Ken Wells's new book Memories of D-Day at Steeple Morden has been released. Picture: Ken Wells Ken Wells's new book Memories of D-Day at Steeple Morden has been released. Picture: Ken Wells

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"I have sent some to America and I've had some marvellous emails back saying now pleased they were that they still being remembered in Steeple Morden."

Mr Wells is now living in Tydd St Giles, Cambridgeshire, having left Steeple Morden 12 years ago.

Telling of the build up to the Allied invasion of Normandy, he writes: "The airfield at Steeple Morden was just one of the many airfields in England that were to be involved in the invasion of fortress Europe, code named 'Overlord' D-Day.

"To disorientate the enemy, a phantom army was set up under the command of Lt-General George S Patton, in the south-east corner of England. As the Germans expected the landings in the Pas-De-Calais area, an elaborate deception plan was put in place to confuse enemy intelligence as to where the landings were to be, code named 'Fortitude', with fake radio broadcasts and radar deception measures. 
"In Steeple Morden and surrounding villages the build up for the invasion did not go unnoticed with convoys of trucks, tanks, jeeps and men travelling south during May.

"In Ashwell, the Royal Observer Corps post noted in the log that every day in May activity in the area was increasing with 26 Flying Fortress bombers from Bassingbourn, and 30 from Nuthampstead - plus 47 Mustangs from Steeple Morden were taking off daily. At night there was a constant stream of Lancaster and Halifax bombers flying south.

"With the build up to the invasion getting closer it was decided that four Mustangs were to be put on daily standby from dawn until dusk for immediate take off, with crew chiefs and grown personnel being moved to the flight line."

If you want to purchase a copy of Mr Wells' book call 01945 871318 or email wkenwells@aol.co.uk.

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