After I included a page with a photo of the Aldborough memorial I had an email from a lady in Canada whose brother had been one of the crew who died on that training flight. She was only ten when he died. Like so many other Canadian airmen who came to this country during the war, he was based at one of our Yorkshire airfields, here at East Moor, close to Sutton on the Forest.
The control tower is usually the most obvious building on these old airfields, but East Moor’s has been demolished. Peripheral airfield buildings remain, some hidden in the trees, some maintained and still used by local farmers and businesses. Many of the runways have been removed, but from the road skirting the southern part of the airfield this round area of hardstanding is still obvious, with an old piece of farm machinery left where the bombers once stood.
Lumps of concrete with iron attachments are also obvious – old aircraft tie-downs.
In the weeds nearby, more recent debris – takeaway wrappers bearing a familiar logo. In the war years, young men who had already travelled miles from their homeland assembled here, night after night, to climb into those massive heavy bombers, not knowing if they’d make it back.
In our more carefree age, we drive by on our own smaller journeys, tucking into a burger, chucking the wrapper out of the car window. Still brightly bearing the slogan ‘Going that extra mile’, it settles in the weeds at the edge of this forgotten runway.
During the Second World War, Yorkshire was home to around 40 airfields, many in the flat areas of the Vale of York. Thousands of airmen died flying from the Yorkshire airfields, many lost on training flights, because of weather conditions or aircraft malfunction. In recent decades memorials have been placed at some of these crash sites, and also close to former airfields (including this one, see East Moor airfield memorial).
You may also be interested in …
Chocolate and Chicory — Buy now, immediate download from gumroad.com
Chocolate and Chicory: York and beyond, by bicycle. My ebook includes further information on the airfields around York, and mapped cycle routes from York visiting some of them. Chocolate and Chicory is an exploration of the local landscape, its stories and histories, via themed journeys along the cycle tracks outside the city walls and the country lanes beyond the ring road. Can also be enjoyed from the comfort of your sofa. Read more …