Fundraising for a New Memorial
"This memorial will be dedicated to the memory of all American servicemen who lost their lives whilst serving their country and helping to preserve freedom."
Greenham Common Trust has agreed to support the Newbury Branch of the Royal British Legion with its plans for a new memorial at the Trust's business park, New Greenham Park, to remember the 16 servicemen who were killed when two B-17 Bombers collided above Greenham Common on December 15th 1944. The town of Newbury and Greenham airbase were already in mourning after 33 airmen were tragically killed just three days earlier when their Horsa Glider crashed on take off.
The 31 American paratroopers of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment and two glider pilots of the 88th Troop Carrier Squadron were transported to Greenham Common airfield for a flight in the large British made Horsa glider. However, their training flight was to end in disaster when it crash landed on take off, killing the whole crew.
Two B-17 Flying Fortress Bombers from the 368th and 423rd squadrons of the 306th Bombing Group were returning from a tough mission in the German industrial heartland of Kassel when a terrible accident occurred killing all but two of the 18 American airmen.
On the 50th anniversary of the glider crash, the Newbury branch of the Royal British Legion and the 17th Airborne Division Association worked together with the former airbase's land agents Vail Williams to build a memorial at the site in memory of the 33 servicemen who lost their lives. It was dedicated by the 17th Airborne Division Association, which provided the plaque, on December 12th 1994. An annual remembrance service has been held by the Royal British Legion at the park every December since and the Trust has named several roads and buildings on the business park after the paratroopers and pilots who were killed.
The Royal British Legion is now raising funds for a new memorial to commemorate not only the lives of those lost in the B-17 and glider crashes but all American servicemen associated with Greenham Common, or its environs, who were killed in action.
Initial ideas include a tri-part granite memorial with bronze plaques, with the original glider memorial plaque transferred to the new site. A final design will be created when the estimated £25,000 funding is secured.
Greenham Common Trust has agreed to provide a piece of land on the park for the new memorial and has created this brochure to help raise funds and increase awareness of the American servicemen who lost their lives at Greenham or on missions in Europe.
Keith Williams, Secretary of the Newbury Branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "These young men died tragically, many miles from their homes and families. It is our honour to remember the sacrifice they made in the defence of freedom. The transformation of the former airbase into New Greenham Park and the charitable income that the business park will produce for generations to come is a fitting tribute to all those who gave thier lives."