WWII Memorial to U.S. Air Force Hidden from View

A WWII memorial in Cambridgeshire, which had been built in commemoration of the United States Air Force had been fenced off at the behest of a commanding officer who did not want it to be viewed by Libyan soldiers who were to be training in the area. Not long after the fence was erected, however, many decided that it was much more offensive to block the WWII memorial from view altogether.

The Memphis Belle commemoration, though based in Great Britain, was a point of pride for American airmen who travelled across the pond just to see it. It was raised using both British and American funds some twenty years ago, and citizens on both sides were offended that the WWII memorial would be hidden for the sake of their guests. It was seen by many as a slight against those who gave their lives seven decades ago to ensure continued peace in the Allied nations. Many of the British felt a kinship with their foreign allies, and are sympathetic toward the need to commemorate the lives lost by them.

A bomber’s propeller marks the spot in question. The propeller, while raised, could not be seen once the fence had been erected to a height of ten feet. Some sympathetic British citizens who have already felt a degree of discontent with their current government found the actions regarding the WWII memorial to be especially heinous. The B-17 propeller is a symbol of the team known as the “Ragged Irregulars,” a bombing group which lost almost 200 planes in the war, the Express reports.

Part of the reason it was thought that the Memphis Belle site would offend the Libyan trainees is because of the air raids led against them in the 1980s. While it is understandable that being reminded of such a thing might offend their sensibilities, many citizens believe that any WWII memorial still deserves its honor and that the trainees should be more than able to respect that while using the base. In fact, the fence does not seem to have been erected due to any voiced malcontent from Libya.

The fence around the WWII memorial has now been taken down, but that does not mean sympathizers toward the fallen airmen it commemorates have forgotten that the action was taken. While the error has been corrected, it has still left a sense of bitterness with some who believe the order was given with little thought to what the Memphis Belle WWII memorial represents—a sense of camaraderie among patriots from various nations, something the British and Americans will hopefully one day share with Libya.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE