Chinook plan to recall the D-Day airfield

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AN RAF helicopter could help to commemorate a Bersted site’s D-Day links 
on the 70th anniversary of the landings.

The organisers of the event, on June 7 next year, hope to turn back the clock to the 1940s when the Chalcraft Lane area was the site of an advanced landing ground.

They are contacting the RAF to see if a flypast and possible landing of a Chinook helicopter can be arranged.

As reported, the landing ground was one of the temporary airfields used to provide airborne support for the Allied troops who invaded France in 1944.

A combined group of Bersted parish councillors and the Aldwick branch of the Royal British Legion is planning to mark the site’s significant contribution to the war effort.

They met again yesterday to progress their proposals.

They intend to join the commemoration with the annual parish festival which takes place each June.

Council chairman Cllr Patrick Hastings said: “The commemoration should be held here. We have had meetings with the RAF Association and the Royal British Legion.”

He told a recent meeting of the parish festival group it was an honour for Bersted to host the occasion.

The festival is held on the Jubilee playing field next to the field which formed part of the landing ground.

Among the events being proposed for the day are a display of military vehicles, a 1940s singer and an attendance by military personnel. It is hoped soldiers from Norway, whose airmen flew from the airfield, and Belgium might also attend.

One of the squadrons based at the airfield was 1310 Flight which, by co-incidence, has regular links with the Bognor branch of the RAF Association.

RAFA branch joint chairman David Hewings said: “1310 Flight is possibly the only RAF unit which served at the landing ground that still exists today.

“And it, again, has strong connections with Bognor. We hope to encourage the RAF to once again provide us with a Chinook on June 7. 1310 Flight is based at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

“The Bognor branch of RAFA sends regular parcels containing provisions and magazines for their aircrew, thanks to the efforts of the branch’s Chinook force liaison officer, Mike Monk.”

The last time a Chinook landed at the airfield was on August 24, 1995, for an Air Training Corps day.