70th Anniversary of the Air Raid on Ford Airfield

Memorial in Climping churchyard

The futility of war and lost lives came much nearer to home when a Service of Remembrance was held on the King George V Playing Field in Yapton to remember those killed in an air raid during the Battle of Britain. The Service was held last month on a beautiful summer’s day which by all accounts replicated the weather on the day on 18 August 1940 when 28 people lost their lives when the Lufftwaffe bombed Ford Airfield. From a clear blue sky the Stuka dive bombers screamed down on to the Ford Airfield. The raid lasted only 10 minutes but 28 people sadly died and 75 were seriously injured.

What happened on that day was vividly portrayed by an elderly lady to a reporter from BBC South Today team which was present to film the event. “My friend’s uncle was killed as he came out, of his store to look at what was going on. Swooping down the planes came and they simply machine-gunned him where he stood". The reporter himself went on to say: “A Service to remember those killed in the bombing raid was held on Yapton’s playing field, near the old airfield at Ford today, and an exhibition was held in Yapton and Ford Village Hall charting the history of the base. Many of those who died in the bombing lie in Clymping churchyard. On that day 70 years ago the all-clear had been sounded at the airfield but then the Stukas came in."

Allen Misselbrook, Secretary of the local History Group which organised the exhibition, commented “The devastation was done just in those short ten minutes. People were watching the planes come in and suddenly they realised they were coming for them..."  

Members of the Yapton and Ford History Group were determined that the attack so many years ago on Ford Airfield should not be forgotten. That what happened in one place and the one day in August 1940 should not be lost in the sweep of history. The members of the History Group certainly achieved that objective. They are to be congratulated in marking the day in such a memorable way.

The event was formally opened by Councillor Dudley Wensley, Chairman of Arun District Council. Commodore Tim Hennessey, who is the Naval Regional Commander, Eastern Division, was also present. The Service of Remembrance was led by the Reverend Andrew Duff, Royal Navy Chaplain based at HMS Nelson, Portsmouth. The band of the Littlehampton Sea Cadets was there to entertain the crowds.

(Originally published in Yapton News, September 2010.)

See here RNAS Ford (HMS Peregrine) for a brief on the event.

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