IN the year when the vital contribution of Bomber Command during WW2 was finally recognised with a wonderful, and fitting, memorial, is it not time that proper tribute was also paid to the valiant American bomber crews who fought alongside the RAF from 1942-45?
At the peak of the offensive against Nazi Germany the 8th US Army Air Force (USAAF) - 'the Mighty Eighth' - flew daytime bombing raids against industrial targets (such as aircraft and munitions factories) while the RAF carried out the night time sorties. Apart from diminishing the Nazi war machine, these huge bombing raids also helped to divert the Nazi forces from the Eastern front and facilitate the Russian advance and our subsequent allied victory in Europe. The official USAAF movie Target for Today features senior officers planning briefings at Brampton Grange and actual aircrew in action from departure to return (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuRPP0rGh3A&feature=player_embedded).
Brampton Grange was the 8th USAAF 1st Air Division HQ during that immensely important period in the war. It is also from Brampton Grange that the signal was sent by the 1st Air Division Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Howard M Turner, to all East Anglia USAAF units to stand down at the cessation of hostilities on May 7, 1945 - there is a copy of this signal in the USAAF archive.
The building was acquired by developers some three years or so ago and, sadly, has been partly demolished and left to deteriorate. Former USAF serviceman Jeff Hawley, now resident in Brampton, applied to have the building listed by English Heritage in order to preserve it but the application was initially rejected.
He is currently awaiting the result of an appeal against this decision. As a Brampton parish councillor I am supporting him in this. The campaign website is www.facebook.com/SaveTheBramptonGrange
In this 70th anniversary year of the arrival of the Mighty Eighth in England, surely it is not too much to ask that locations and buildings which have local, national and international military significance in relation to the USAAF bombing crews be identified and listed to protect them from the ravages of time - and unsympathetic development - before it is too late?
Cllr EILEEN COLLIER