99-year-old lays wreath at former Norfolk airfield
- Credit: Archant
An ex-servicewoman who celebrated her 99th birthday in February laid the wreath at a former Norfolk station as it belatedly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the RAF.
The service was held at the former RAF West Raynham site, near Fakenham, on Saturday, April 7.
Former Women’s Royal Air Force leading aircraft woman Cathy Weston, who was stationed at West Raynham during the Second World War, was the guest of the honour.
Paul Lloyd, chairman of RAF West Raynham Association, said: “What a great day. Our little celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, in which we all served and played a small part.
“Cathy Weston laid the wreath and cut the cake. She served at RAF West Raynham from 1941 to 1943.
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“After a short ceremony and wreath laying at the memorial, we retired to the building that was the fire section by the ATC tower for food, drinks and entertainment provided by Richard Tree.
“Our association provided and cooked the food and we raised funds via a raffle and donations.
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“One of the aims of the day was to sponsor the Signal Square which depicts the current state of the former station from the air.
“Jon and Shelley Booty, the current owners of the control tower, allowed us to use the former crash bays as a place to celebrate festivities, for which we are very grateful. Invited guests were invited to tour the tower to see the work in progress.”
West Raynham opened in 1939 as a permanent station with Blenheim light bombers.
Losses were heavy in the many raids carried out over occupied Europe in the early years of the war. In 1943 the Mosquitoes of 100 Group moved in, flying night intruder and bomber support operations.
After the war the station became the base for the Central Fighter Establishment and later fighter squadrons included Hunters and Javelins.
In 1964 the Kestrel Evaluation Squadron arrived, and from the 1970s Bloodhound surface-to-air missiles were based at the station for air defence. The airfield closed in 1994 and a memorial was unveiled in 2014.