www.greatchartatwar.org.uk Great Chart Remembers 2014
To commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, the Great Chart Remembers Committee lead by Ian Wolverson organised a series of commemorative events over Sunday the 3rd and Monday 4th August 2014.

On both days, an exhibition was held in the Great Chart village hall showing display boards of information about the soldiers from the village who wrote over 1600 letters to the "Friends of Great Chart" in response to the fortnightly parcels sent to them by the Friends. It also included a copy of the only known surviving letter written by the Friends Secretary Mrs Elizabeth Strouts, to Private Harding.

The exhibition showed pictures and information about those American and Canadian airmen who flew from RAF Ashford (Advanced Landing Ground- ALG417 ) in World War 2 and those who failed to return.  Visitors came from the USA, including 90 year old Captain Bernie Sledzik one of the surviving pilots of 514th Fighter Squadron USAAF who flew out of the airfield in WWII. Tours were also held to visit the site of RAF Ashford nearby at Chilmington Green.

Monday 4th August 2014 also marked the  93rd Anniversary of the unveiling of the War Memorial in 1921. 
During the evening, a commemoration service was held in St.Mary the Virgin Church, Great Chart followed by a re-dedication of the War Memorial in The Street.  Ian Wolverston was master of ceremonies as the new memorials were unveiled.

The War Memorial now shows the 7 men from the village omitted from the memorial back in 1921:

William Epps, Henry Carpenter, Leonard Miller MM,
Thomas Ruane, William Sinden, Charles Shorter,
Leslie Norton.

The newly engraved names were unveiled by David Skinner and Nick Skinner, Great Nephews of Albert Skinner (KIA 4.11.17) already commemorated on the War Memorial.



The year 2014 was also the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of France in 1944, It was therefore an opportunity to commemorate those allied airman in the second world war who died in the parish or who flew from it never to return.

Either side of the War Memorial, two new large free standing memorial plaques were unveiled:

The left hand plaque commemorates the 15 RAF airmen from 5003 Airfield Construction Squadron killed on 22 May 1944 when a bomb, dropped by a German bomber, fell at nearby Coleman's Kitchen. The deaths were not widely reported due to the secrecy surrounding the build-up to Operation Overlord, the 6 June 1944 Invasion of France. The plaque was unveiled by Squadron Leader Mike Haygarth 5001 Squadron.

Those commemorated are:
Robert Barker, Joseph Barry, Douglas Creed, Horace Dawson, Charles Dodd,
John Dugan, James Edwards, Arthur Fieldhouse, Michael Gibbons,
George Goodall, Samuel Howard, John Irvine, William Kerman, Hyman Kersh, George J Truphet.


The right hand plaque commemorates the 21 American and 3 Canadian airman who died flying out of RAF Ashford (Advanced Landing Ground 417) in late 1944. The plaque was unveiled by Captain Bernie Sledzik one of the surviving pilots of 514th Fighter Squadron USAAF.

Those commemorated are:

414th Squadron
F/o Louis P Theriault, F/o Robert E Baker, F/o Duncan H Lewis

USAAF 406th Fighter Group
512th Squadron
2nd Lt Alfred C Harnagel, 2nd Lt Russell E Tilton, Major William H Merriam,
2nd Lt Harry H Pedersen, 1st Lt Lyon A Agee, 2nd Lt Elmer C Dudolski,
1st Lt John W Mullaney.

513th Squadron
2nd Lt Carl L Gray, 2nd Lt Ray E Demeritt, 1st Lt Harry A Nock,
1st Lt Wayne T Swanbery.

514th Squadron
2nd Lt Bernard F Dugan, Major Gene L Arth, Tch Sgt Charlie E Lavender, 1st Lt John E Wilkes,
2nd Lt Merlin E Isbell, 1st Lt Lewis A Burton, 2nd Lt Marion A Benson, 2nd Lt James L Billington,
2nd Lt Edward R Gaudet, 1st Lt Levett C Beck Jnr.

Also commemorated:
616 Squadron
Flt Sgt Donald A Gregg - the first active service RAF jet engine aircraft death - 15.8.44.

Pictures Dave Skinner

A wreath for the village fallen was laid by Retired Brigadier Brian Parritt CBE. Wreaths were laid in front of the new Memorial Plaques by the official representative of the Royal Air Force and the Military Air Attaches of the American and Canadian Governments. In memory of all who fell, the American and Canadian visitors and residents of the village placed 73 individual wooden poppy crosses around the memorials.

At the end of the re-dedication service, in a mastery of timing, just as the Bugler played the Last Post, the flags were lowered, church clock struck 9pm, and the setting sun fell away.

" They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. "

Photos of both plaques and the War Memorial are available by email to dave@greatchartatwar.org.uk





The Great Chart Sailors' and Soldiers' War Fund