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36th Squadron Memorial unvailing England

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36BS "BEAST OF BOURBON" MEMORIAL UNVAILING, LONG MARSTON/HERTFORDSHIRE

 

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After the succesfull 36th Sqn memorial unvailing at Cheddington last November the FAAA returned to the Airfield this year to take part in the unvailing of a second memorial related to the Airfield and the 36th Bomb Squadron

 

This time the memorial marked the crash on take off of one of the most famous of 8th Army Airforce's aircraft, the "Beast of Bourbon" which resulted in the loss of 3 of its crew. The event took place Saturday 7th May with surviving crew members making there first visit back to the village of Long Marston where the aircraft came down. This memorial was errected only a few miles from where the other memorial now stands and only a few hundread Metres from where the aircraft crashed.

 

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The Beast warms up before a mission

 

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The "Beast of Bourbon" alongside "Jigs Up"

 

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2nd Lt Don Burch and 1st Lt Harold Boehm. Pilot and co pilot.

 

On the 19th Feb 1945 a 36BS B24H Liberator R4H serial No 42-50385 Took off from USAAF Base Cheddington ST113 at 09.16 but just half a mile west of runway 26 due to weather conditions and instrument failure the Liberator came down just missing a row of cottages in the village of Long Marston, The B24 had ploughed through two hedges crossed Astrope Lane then took out two trees before coming to rest in the centre of a field being used for cattle grazing, On board was ten crew members and extra Navigator as it was his check ride! After the crash Navigator 1st Lt John D Howarth managed to get out and run but returned to get his buddies out, He knew it was very risky but had to do it, 7 minutes later the B24 set on fire with 3 Of the crew still trapped they perished in their Plane! He carried this with him until now.

 

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The Crash site Feb 1945

 

After organising the Memorial at Ford End Farm, Ivinghoe in November last year Chas Jellis the event organiser thought that would be enough but!! Lt John D Howarth contacted him say thank you for what he had done in remembering the men of the 36th Bomb Squardron and asked if at all possible that a Memorial could be errected to honour the lost crew of the "Beast Of Bourbon", how could Chas refuse!

 

Chas a great friend to the Association again asked us to provide the Honor Guard, Vehicles and display material and we stood ready to help in anyway we could.

 

Prior to the event many site recces and meetings were set up and during these aan interesting picture of life in and around the Village of Long Marston was built up.

 

Pictured below is the location where the memorial was placed, situated right next to the WWI/WWII Village memorial it was a fitting place for the memorial to go and all involved will be forever gratefull to the village for allowing this to take place.

 

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This was a working farm during the war and was nearly destroyed along with the School next door when a German Bomber dropped its remaining bombs on its way home from a bombing mission. A school teacher was killed and the School very badly damaged. The farm house stands just behind the WWI /WWII memorial and site of the new memorial.

 

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For the event my jeep represented a Cheddington Base Military Police Company vehicle. There were two MP Company's based at Cheddington, this may very well have been due to the covert operations that took place there revolving around 36th Bomb Squadron. The 1385th MP Co (Avn) was the longest serving Base MP unit and it took quite a bit of extensive research and correspondence with the 36th Squadron/Cheddington historian in the states before I could finally confirm the unit designation.

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The week before memorial stone recovered from the old airfield and the marble tablet were put in place next to the WWI/WWII village memorial. In what was a precise military style operation the stone and tablet was lifted from Chas's yard and transported the few miles to the Village green in Long Marston. With the Stone weighing in at nearly two ton the operations was a difficult one, however the hoist lifted the stone from the truck within inches of overhead cables and set it down right on target to be followed by the memorial tablet.

 

It was very emotional to see both in place and to witness Chas Jellis's dream coming true. With help from his many friends the scene was now set for a great day on Saturday the 7th May.

 

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With everything in place and covered up it was a matter of waiting for the day to arrive and keep an eye on the weather.

 

On the eve of the unveiling, several members of the group later popped by the Village hall to check on last minute details and touch base with the event organiser before returning to the Unit commanders CP to go over class A uniform for the morning. On the other side of town Tom was entertaining the present 36th Squadron Commanding Officer.

 

More to come

 

LB

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OUTSTANDING! I wish we could make it to the unvailing. Best of luck.

 

Scott


Msgt. Scott Dunkirk

401st B.G (H)

615 B.S.

AZGCLHU Inc.

 

Arizona ground crew page

 

 

(IYAMYAS)

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Film footage just in of the memorial day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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YES, OUTSTANDING job guys!! EXCELLENT dedication!

 

Scott


Msgt. Scott Dunkirk

401st B.G (H)

615 B.S.

AZGCLHU Inc.

 

Arizona ground crew page

 

 

(IYAMYAS)

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