RAF Marham Aviation Heritage Centre Hosts Author Mark Johnson

MAR-UNLCASS-20130912-0868

Royal Air Force Marham Aviation Heritage Centre played host to the author Mark Johnson in a visit which provided an excellent opportunity for an exchange of ideas between the Centre and the author.

A number of serving personnel volunteer in the running of the Heritage Centre and give their time to research and develop the Centre which has developed from a Station History Room to the Aviation Heritage Centre it is today. The team, under the direction of Warrant Officer (WO) Steve Roberts are always on the look out for interesting stories and artefacts, and the meeting with Mark proved incredibly rewarding for both parties.

Sergeant Jim Russell and Corporal Ashley Keates met Mark to discuss the role of the Caribbean and West African Aircrew and their role within the RAF during World War II. The role of these airmen is not widely known and there is very little written about the bravery and heroism of these volunteers. On discovering that he had relatives who served during this time Mark began his research which has resulted into the forthcoming publication of a book. The research which has become a passion of his, has taken a twist as a couple of the aircrew were found to have served at RAF Marham. In particular Ulric Cross of Trinidad who became a Squadron Leader of No 139 (Jamaica) Squadron based at RAF Marham in 1944.

Corporal Ashley Keates said: “It has highlighted a new chapter in RAF Marham’s Heritage and shows the diversity of countries that served with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and undertook bomber missions from RAF Marham. With kind permission of the author this will be added to the display at the Aviation Heritage Centre.”

The aim of the Curator, WO Roberts, is to provide a fitting tribute to all ex and serving members of Royal Air Force Marham and discovering stories such as this is very important as they provide an insight into history which is previously undiscovered. Additionally, the Aviation Heritage Centre aims to create a lasting historical legacy as Royal Air Force Marham is the last remaining operational airbase in Norfolk.

On visiting the centre author Mark Johnson said; “I am very impressed by the quality of the work that has been done by the Heritage Centre team at RAF Marham. The displays and the layout they have designed represent much more than the usual collection of aircraft photos and parts because they vividly tell the human story of Air Force life at Marham from the inception of the base to the present day. I learned a great deal during my visit and I also got a real sense of what Caribbean aircrew must have experienced while flying from this airfield during the war. The Centre deserves to be visited by anyone with an interest in Marham or the Royal Air Force.”

In the longer term the Centre aims to create an interactive learning facility by capturing, archiving and referencing every one of the 15,000 plus photographs and historic documents within the current collection, many of them are closely associated with life at Royal Air Force Marham and the surrounding area. Outside the Garden of Remembrance provides a place to visit and sit in quiet contemplation remembering those who have served.

The Centre is open to visit by appointment only, and on the last Saturday of every month between 9am and 4pm. Appointments to visit the Centre can be made by calling 07717 426961 during office hours.

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