Military Vehicle Trust plan to visit the Heritage Centre on Sunday 4th August

Make a note to visit the Heritage Centre on Sunday 4th August.

Members of the South Hampshire branch of the Military Vehicle Trust (MVT) plan to visit the New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre Museum on Sunday 4th August, in the morning, as part of a  full day ‘Road Run’ through the New Forest. The convoy of WWII military vehicles, owned and maintained by MVT members is expected to arrive around 11.30 am.  The expected vehicles include Jeeps, a Dodge ‘deuce and a half’ truck, motorcycles and others, as yet unspecified.Dr Henry Goodall, FONFA Chair of Trustees, will welcome the MVT Group and show them around the new museum exhibits, including the new display screens, commissioned in March. He said, “Like FONFA, the MVT members cherish and display their vehicles, to keep alive the memories of the people, their sacrifices and the commitment of our Armed Forces, in WWII.                                                                                                                                  “Through seeing and touching the actual vehicles that went to war, children and young people will gain personal experience of what it was like to use these valuable mementoes of a bygone age, which is fast receding from living memory. Such ‘hands on’ knowledge and personal experience is simply impossible to gain, from a computer or a book.”



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Milton Heritage Society – Visit to Heritage Centre Museum and Airfields Tour

On July 4th, the first FONFA airfields tour took place in bright sunshine, with Milton Heritage Society members. An itinerary was organised with Dr Henry Goodall, FONFA Chair of Trustees, and included a morning visit to the Heritage Centre Museum, lunch at ‘The Three Tuns’ in Bransgore, followed by visits to the New Forest Airfields Memorial at Holmsley South and the WWII airfield site, plus the aircraft dispersal pans, which are now occupied by the Holmsley Camp and Caravan sites. The tour then continued on to include the WWII airfields at Beaulieu and Stoney Cross, and the Canadian Memorial at Mogshade, near Boldrewood, before returning to New Milton.The Group at the New Forest Airfields MemorialNew Milton Heritage Society Chairman Nick Saunders described the tour as, “A fascinating and really enjoyable day, guided around some of the New Forest WW2 airfields”. He continued, “I thought the models and dioramas were superb and really add to the story. I was particularly impressed with the museum and with the three large, interactive display units that you have. They are really superb and give a lot of information to the visitor.”New Forest National Park information board at Holmsley South

The group was smaller than originally planned, but this allowed more time for personal interaction and stories to be shared. Henry Goodall commented, “We hope that this will be the first of many such tours, enabling us to share knowledge of the local wartime history with a wider audience. ‘There is no substitute for standing on the ground where history was made’. We have so few sites in this country, compared with on the continent, where this is still possible, so making use of every opportunity to share our knowledge of local history is a must.”Remains of the WWII main runway at Beaulieu airfield 

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Annual Re-Dedication of the New Forest Airfields Memorial

The Annual Service of Re-Dedication of the New Forest Airfields Memorial was held on Sunday 30th June at the Memorial in Black Lane, on the western edge of the WWII airfield at Holmsley South.The Service was conducted by the Rev. Canon Bill Rogers and led by John Brooks, Founder Trustee and former Chairman of FONFA. The Parade Marshal was Lucy Eden and the following guests attended:                                                                                                  Sir Christopher Chope. MP for Christchurch and Lady Chope
Dr Julian Lewis MP for New Forest East
The Deputy Mayor  of Christchurch, Cnllr Sue Bungey and her husband Cnllr Colin as Consort                                                                                                                                                 The Deputy Mayor of New Milton Cnllr Keith Critze and Town Clerk Graham Flexman
Sqdn Ldr Cameron Robottom, representing the Royal Australian Air Force
F/O Alan Bradshaw OC 171 Sqdn Air Cadets from Christchurch with 2 Standards (Air Cadets and RAFA)
A representative from the Royal British Legion Christchurch with Standard
A representative from the Royal British Legion Lymington with 2 Standards (RBL and Mountbatten).                                                                                                                                Visitors from the Royal Naval Association.                                                                          Wreaths were received from the Merchant Navy and from the Czech Embassy.We encourage all members of the public to attend the Annual Service, which honours the dedication and sacrifice of all who served on the New Forest Airfields in the 1939-1945 period, both civilian and military personnel, in any capacity.                                         Without their sustained and courageous efforts, in that time of great national peril, when democracy was existentially threatened, the freedoms that we enjoy today would not exist.

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Olivier LeFloch Newsletter No.16

We have just received the latest edition of Olivier LeFloch’s Newsletters about the American 367th Fighter Group’s progress across France in the late summer and autumn of 1944, following D-Day. For those new to these Neswletters, Olivier is a French aviation enthusiast and amateur historian, with a passion to record the history of the American 367th Fighter Group, whose first station in Europe was at Stoney Cross, in the New Forest, from April to June 1944.

This edition contains many contemporary and modern photographs, with Internet links to additional information and photographs. It traces the advance from A-44 Le Peray airfield, in August, to Saint Quentin (A-71 Clastres), a former German air base, which the 367th FG had previously bombed.

Unusual stories include the finding and defusing of a German V-1 flying bomb, which had crash landed and was intact, and reference to the Nazi SS atrocity in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, on 10th June 1944, in which the SS forced all the men of the village into barns, shot them in the legs, poured petrol over them and burned them alive. All the women and children were herded into the church, which was then set alight and those attempting to escape were machine gunned. Only one woman escaped alive to tell the story. Six hundred and forty two inhabitants were killed in reprisal for the kidnapping of a German officer and Resistance activity in the area.

There is reference too, to the loss of Lts Gillespie and Peters in the dogfight on 17th June 1944. The details of a recent ceremony, commemorating these two pilots, were reported earlier on this website.

This issue is full of previously unpublished photographs, old and new, and gives a vivid snapshot of life in the Group, after D-Day.

Newsletter 367th Fighter Group_issue16

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Vandalism at Friends of the New Forest Airfields – again.

On Sunday 2nd June, four days short of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in June 1944, the brand new temporary signs that we use only on Open Days, to help show visitors where our Heritage Centre Museum is located, were vandalised, first by the destruction of the ‘Airfields Museum’ sign between 0845 hrs an 0915 hrs and again, during the afternoon, when all the signs were torn down and thrown onto the grass at the side of Derritt Lane, Bransgore.This is the second time that our Charity has been subjected to vandalism in 21 months, the first being the breaking of the glass display cabinet at the New Forest Airfields Memorial, at the former World War II airfield at Holmsley South, in September 2017.

Our small Charity exists solely to protect and preserve our local aviation heritage and to help people to learn about the courage and bravery of the many thousands of Allied airmen and women, who died to protect our freedom in our country’s ‘darkest hour’, in World War II. We volunteer for the Charity to remember and to honour their sacrifice, without which, many of those living today, in these islands, would never have been born.

Dr Henry Goodall, Chair of Trustees, Friends of the New Forest Airfields (FONFA)        New Forest Airfields Memorial & Heritage Centre Museum

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New Horsa Glider diorama added to FONFA Heritage Centre Museum

Loading the Horsa –“Left hand down a bit – then, hard right!”Completed just in time for the ‘D-Day 75’ commemorations this month, a new scale model glider diorama was added to the Museum displays. This depicts a very common site on local airfields, during 1944, when glider borne troops practiced the loading of Jeeps and equipment into the large Horsa gliders, in preparation for the massive numbers of British gliders used in the parachute and glider assault on Normandy in June 1944.This new 1.72nd scale glider diorama, inspired by the wartime photograph above,  depicts British Paratroopers struggling to manhandle an Airborne Jeep into a Mk.I Horsa glider, in preparation for the Allies’ assault on D-Day. The combination of a careful driver and manpower was needed to load a Jeep, trailer and ammunition into the glider, via metal gutters, which allowed the Jeep to be driven up to the level of the side entry door. Some Jeeps were airlifted with a small artillery piece, ammunition and the gun crew. On landing in France, the tail section of the glider was removed and the gutters placed so that the Jeep could be easily driven out of the rear of the aircraft. Later, for Operation Varsity in 1945, the Rhine crossing, the Mk II Horsa had a side hinged nose section, which made the loading easier, when the Jeep could be driven straight into the fuselage from the front.

The Horsa model kit, based on the 1960s era Italeri moulding, with more recent Airfix Jeep and Paratrooper figures, won the Poole Vikings Model Club ‘Model of the Month’ in June 2019.

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U.S. Visitors to the Heritage Centre and New Forest Airfields Memorial

Two American visitors viewed the Museum and Memorial on 31st May, as part of their journey to the 75th Anniversary of D-Day commemorations in Normandy. They are part of a group from the Houston, Texas area, who have shipped their vehicles, two restored WWII trucks and a Jeep and trailer, over to Southampton, in the UK, in a shipping container. The group, which numbers almost thirty, will be driving the vehicles around significant WWII sites and museums in Europe, ending their two week trip in Bastogne, Belgium.

Dennis Huebner and Henry Mayo were shown the sites of the WWII airfields at Winkton, Holmsley South and Stoney Cross, as well as the Heritage Centre Museum, by FONFA Chair of Trustees, Henry Goodall. They were very interested in the new interactive displays and were pleased to see so many aircraft models. Henry Mayo volunteers at a WWII Museum near to his home and stated that, although they have vehicles and artefacts, they have few models on display there.

Dennis Huebner and Henry Mayo are pictured below, in front of the New Forest Airfields Memorial. Henry Mayo (right) and Henry Goodall first met five years ago, in December 2014, on a battlefields tour of the area of Belgium in which the Battle of the Bulge was fought, in the winter of 1944-45.

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