The Arnhem Service 2023 – Down Ampney

  • Sun 10 Sep 2023, 11:00 5 months ago
  • Location: Down Ampney

Commemorating those who served at RAF Down Ampney 1944-1947.

The annual Arnhem Service Commemorating Operation Market Garden will take place at:

All Saints’ Church, Down Ampney at 11am

on Sunday 10th September 2023

RAF Down Ampney

During the Second World War, RAF Down Ampney was based on the outskirts of the village of Down Ampney and was operational from February 1944 – February 1947.

No 48 Squadron RAF and No 271 Squadron RAF flew Douglas Dakotas on major missions.  On D-Day they dropped the main elements of the 3rd Parachute Brigade in Normandy as well as towing

Airspeed Horsa Gilders across the English  Channel.  They were also active in Operation Market Garden (Arnhem) and the Rhine Crossing.

Between operations aircrew flying from RAF Down Ampney provided an ongoing service of delivering personnel, petrol, ammunition, food, clothing, and tyres, earning themselves the nickname “the Removal Men”.  They also brought back over 100,000 casualties from Europe, and after VE Day brought thousands of servicemen back to Britain from the Far and Middle East.

Many young people – men and women – served at RAF Down Ampney.  It was a place where firm friendships were forged, memories made and many acts of bravery recorded.  All Saints’ Church was adjacent to the airfield and its spire served as a

welcome sight for those returning from operations.

The story of Flight Lieutenant David Lord VC DFC

On the afternoon of 19th September 1944 there was a lull in the bitter fighting on the outskirts of the Dutch town of Arnhem.  Men of the British 1st Airborne Division were besieged.  Their mission to capture the bridge over the Lower Rhine and open the way to Germany was heading for heroic failure.  Overhead RAF aircraft fought through intense opposition on their re-supply missions.

Then came the sight that caused such awe amongst the British soldiers and their German opponents that many watched rather than fought.  Afterwards they would talk of having witnessed one of the bravest acts of the war.

A burning Dakota flew over the drop zone, its despatchers visible in the doorway pushing out panniers on parachutes.  Incredibly the “Dak” turned and made a second pass, the dispatchers still visible, still paying no heed to urgings from the ground to jump.

The last pannier flew out and then the starboard wing fell from the aircraft, which plunged into the ground.

An Air Despatcher survived, hurled out of the doorway by the explosion.  Flight Lieutenant David Lord DFC and the rest of the crew died.

When, in November 1945, the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross was announced for “Lummee” Lord, it was said that the decoration epitomized the spirit of the men and women who served at RAF Down Ampney in Gloucestershire.

Memorials

There is a Memorial Window at All Saints’ Church, Down Ampney, which commemorates those who served at RAF Down Ampney and includes an image of the Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to Flight-Lieutenant David Lord VC DFC.

There is also a Memorial Garden where the cremated remains of former service personnel based at Down Ampney are interred.  Even to this day Veterans who served at the base during WWII still request that this be their final resting place.

A Memorial Stone stands at the end of the former runway which reads:

From this airfield in 1944-5

Douglas Dakotas from 48 and

271 Squadrons RAF Transport

Command carried the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions, units of the Air Despatch Regiment and Horsa Gliders flown by

the Glider Pilots Regiment to

Normandy-Arnhem and on the Crossing the Rhine Operations.

Units stationed at  RAF Down Ampney:

E Sqdn Glider Pilot’s Regiment : 

flew from Down Ampney and not only landed their Gliders, but also fought alongside the Airbourne troops.

The Air Despatch Regiment :

four of whom flew with each Dakota on the Arnhem operation and lost 116 men on four days of re-supply.

The Air Ambulance Section :

brought back casualties to the Evacuation Centre at Down Ampney.

WAAF nurses flew with the unarmed

DC3s to tend the wounded on flights.

7th Kings Own Scottish Borderers :

flew from Down Ampney for the Arnhem operation and suffered 80% casualties.

RAF 271 Squadron :

was based at RAF Down Ampney and Flt Lt David Lord won the Victoria Cross in Transport Command.  Amongst other notables was Jimmy Edwards (later a well known actor/comedian) who was shot down, but landed safely and awarded the DFC.

The 6th Airborne Division : 

was flown from Down Ampney to Normandy for D Day and the 1st Airborne Division was dropped at Arnhem in Operation Market Garden.  Over 10,000 were dropped and only 2,000 retreated over the Rhine.

RAF 233 Squadron :

based at Blakehill Farm as part of 46 Group and brought back many casualties to the Down Ampney Air Casualty Evacuation Centre.

RAF 48 Squadron : 

took troops to Normandy and Arnhem.

The Arnhem Service, Down Ampney

There is an annual ‘Arnhem Service’ on the second Sunday of September each year to mark the anniversary of Operation Market Garden.  This takes place in All Saints’ Church; and the congregation then gather at the Memorial Stone at the end of the former runway for an Act of Remembrance.

 

For more information please contact:

The Reverend Canon John Swanton

Vicar of Down Ampney and

Team Rector, the South Cotswolds Team Ministry

Tel:       01285 851309

Email:     ampneyrector@gmail.com


Event Location

All Saints Church
Cirencester
GL7 5QW

Get directions

All Saints Church
Cirencester
GL7 5QW

Get directions

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