Memorial dedicated to airmen lost in the Cheviots

Airmen from five nations who lost their lives in wartime crashes in the Cheviot Hills were remembered in a poignant ceremony.

Thursday, 13th September 2018, 13:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th September 2018, 10:20 am
Rededication of thw Cheviot Memorial at Cuddystone by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. Colonel Molstad lays a wreath on behalf of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Duke of Gloucester was in the College Valley to unveil the new Cheviot Memorial, dedicated to the 58 airmen who lost their lives in 19 crashes in the hills between 1939 and 1946.

The original was unveiled and dedicated by the Duke in 1995, but had worn very badly in recent years.

Rededication of the Cheviot Memorial at Cuddystone by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. The Dukes meets representatives of overseas Air Forces. Picture by Jane Coltman

Part of the wider RAF 100 celebrations to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, a £25,000 project was launched to build a new memorial of solid granite with a cast bronze top, with the fund-raising efforts led by the Alnwick and Rothbury branches of the RAF Association.

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At last Thursday’s dedication, guests included the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, the Duchess of Northumberland; Geoff Watson, civic head of Northumberland County Council; John Baker Cresswell, chairman of College Valley Estates; Group Captain Tim Willbond, project director; and representatives of the RAF, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, United States Air Force and the German Air Force.

The Duke unveiled the main memorial and a second dedicated to the courage of the local shepherds, who undertook rescues in all weathers, and sheepdog Sheila, who was awarded an animal bravery award for her involvement in the rescue of an American crew, after a B17 Flying Fortress crashed in December 1944.

After the service of dedication, wreaths were laid and the Duke viewed a striking roll of honour which lists the names of those who died, including eight German airmen.

Rededication of the Cheviot Memorial at Cuddystone by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. Picture by Jane Coltman

Made from bronze and illustrated with silhouettes of the 16 types of aircraft which crashed in the Cheviots, it has the words Duty Done – They Sleep.

Following the ceremony, the Duke unveiled a commemorative plaque at Cuddystone Hall and planted an oak tree to mark his visit.