Tuesday, 1 November 2011

News - Tribute to fliers of lost airport (Doncaster)

A ‘LONG overdue’ memorial to the men and women who served at Doncaster’s original airport has been unveiled.

The monument to honour all the aviators who flew from Doncaster Municipal Airport in peacetime and RAF Doncaster in the war, has been placed on the island at Lakeside, near the site of the original control tower.

It was created and donated by Bawtry memorial mason Stephen Davis and commissioned by South Yorkshire Air Museum, which is housed in one of the old hangars.

Stephen and his team erected the wedge-shaped memorial, depicting the outline of the old airfield engraved on a grey granite plinth.

It was officially unveiled by Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies and retired Air Vice Marshal Alan Johnson after Ian Kingsnorth from the museum welcomed the gathering.

Words of remembrance were read by 98-year-old Eric Clarke, from Carcroft, who was a Flight Lieutenant in the Second World War.

Among the distinguished guests who aid wreaths was Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire David Moody and Lord Scarbrough.

The memorial salutes all those civilian and military airmen and women and ground crews based at what was Doncaster’s original airport and RAF Doncaster from 1934 until after the war.

It reverted to a civilian aerodrome until it closed in 1992.

During the war the airport, which had a grass runway, housed a Ministry of Aircraft Production factory where Westland Lysander reconnaissance planes were built. Vickers Wellington bombers were repaired there.

Carl Spedding, spokesman for the museum, said: “This memorial is long overdue.

“It is being erected as tangible evidence of Doncaster’s long association in British aviation history.

“The Aircraft Museum has preserved the history of Doncaster’s aviation in the form of the last buildings of the old wartime airfield, full of exciting aircraft.”

The 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron was formed in Doncaster in 1938 but left in 1939 to fight in the Battle of Britain with the Spitfire.

From the beginning of World War Two the airfield became RAF Doncaster housing 271 Squadron, later affectionately christened ‘Doncaster’s Own’ by the local townsfolk.

In the 1970s the pilots’ clubhouse under the control tower became a popular night spot.

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