Memorials pay tribute to wartime air bases

b13-520 Unveiling of Airfields of Britain memorial in Woburn Park''Fred Wooding, chairman of the Bedfordshire county branch of the British Legion, lays a wreath.
b13-520 Unveiling of Airfields of Britain memorial in Woburn Park''Fred Wooding, chairman of the Bedfordshire county branch of the British Legion, lays a wreath.

Aviation history was commemorated on Saturday with the unveiling of a memorial at the sites of two former wartime bases.

The Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) erected the monument in Woburn Park to ensure the airfield, and the people who served there, are never forgotten.

Founder of the ABCT Kenneth Bannerman said: “Airfields are every bit as part of our heritage as castles and stately homes; these places were vital in securing the freedom we have today.

“We are delighted, therefore, to be providing a lasting tribute for present and future generations.”

Woburn Park has a rich and varied flying past, famous for its use between both world wars by the Duchess of Bedford.

Flying started in the late 1920s and continued until her unexplained disappearance in March 1937 during a flight over the East Anglian coast.

After her tragic death the site’s links with aviation continued when Woburn Park became a Satellite Landing Ground for aircraft storage for the RAF, the largest SLG of them all.

A large number of Short Stirlings arrived which were eventually scrapped after the end of the war but the site was not clear of Stirlings, and indeed the RAF, until as late as May 1947.

Since then many vintage aircraft meetings have taken place.

And on Sunday the memorial at the former airfield at Podington, which is now used as the Santa Pod Raceway, was unveiled.

Podington Airfield opened in August 1942 and was used by various American units, notably the 92nd Bomb Group.

After the 92nd Bomb Group moved to France in the summer of 1945, Podington passed to RAF control, closing in 1947 and eventually being sold in 1961. In 1966 the site opened as Santa Pod.