Join The Dame for the first of a series of special events commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, tonight welcoming Kenneth Bannerman, founder and CEO of Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Among these is the Bury St. Edmunds field, which has restored the original air control tower but many have not been so lucky and the ABCT has much to do if they are to save these precious international treasures.
A great part in that conflict was played out over the skies of Europe by members of the 8th Air Force 94th Bomb Group, flying thousands of B-17s out of airfields in Britain to command overcome the German war machine. Thousands of Airmen took part in thousands of missions staged from those airfields which have been diminishing at a rapid rate from disuse, development and ignorance of their value, both as historical monuments and viable economic entities.
Join The Dame for a very special audience with Kenneth Bannerman, entrepreneur, author and activist, who has been instrumental in forming the organization spearheading the campaign to educate, inform and motivate the British and International community to work together to preserve these treasures.
Some background from Kenneth Bannerman:
Britain’s airfields are generally recognized as the greatest in the world as regards all-round achievement and significance – name the most famous airfield associated with virtually any aviation duty and a British name will emerge in top place
Our airfields are the only major ones in the world to have actively participated in both World Wars and won both of them – indeed, they have never lost a war
Socially, as opposed to militarily, these places have enormously altered our everyday lives for the better, whether active or disused e.g employment, finance/trade, food, defence/public safety, communications, power supplies, the emergency services, leisure – even such big concepts as calculating time
Our airfields celebrated their 100th anniversary in February 2009 – but Britain strangely appears to be the only country in the world not to precisely know where its first airfield opened
2010 marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the most important event of World War Two in which our airfields proved the key players – the disastrous mistake by the Luftwaffe on September 7 1940 to switch from making our airfields their primary targets to instead bomb London and other British towns and cities could be said to be the most important single day in the conflict
But, despite such brilliance, Britain’s airfields – especially our disused ones – have never received the respect they so richly deserve and have in general seen dreadful treatment, seeing everything from ignorance to demolition
Many people however are slowly but surely beginning to realize the immense gravity of this situation, both militarily and socially
On a happier note, many American veterans and their families still come in strength to make pilgrimages to their former bases
ABCT itself could have formed many years before, maybe even in the early 1980s, but was dogged for years by a mixture of blatant obstruction, personal setbacks and perhaps being too far ahead of its time in terms of overall thinking
The charity finally formed after a real struggle and considerable letdowns in January 2006, being officially launched at the RAF Museum at Hendon the following June (see our first newsletter on the website)
ABCT is headquartered where I live in Glasgow, Scotland
We are Britain’s (and almost certainly the world’s) first national airfield charity
Our 2,500 page website (which I co-designed, despite never having even touched a computer before) is officially one of the most popular in the world
Last year saw confirmed in-depth visits from 117 countries
Every single US state has visited the website
Our distinctive logo is now starting to be recognized just on its own
Our initial top priority, along with showing how important and relevant are Britain’s airfields, was to establish an airfield memorial … at each known disused airfield in this country. We have already made a good start with this…[but there is much more to be done].
Dedicated to Capt. Milton F. Ottesen and all the brave airmen who risked and sometimes gave their lives in this effort.