A stunning new memorial is set to be unveiled as a tribute to the role a local airfield played during World War Two.
The Carnaby Airfield Memorial, (CAM), was formed in January 2014 by a group of local residents to raise funds and awareness of the vital role played by Carnaby airfield which was a key location during the six year war.
Sue Dawson, from CAM, said: “The aim was to raise sufficient funds to erect a befitting memorial to all those who worked, served and landed at the airfield during the conflict. CAM officially obtained charity status in April 2015.”
Since then CAM has raised over £50,000 towards the creation and direction of the memorial.
Local artist and sculptor Stephen Carvill, (creator of the Gansey Girl statue on Bridlington harbour), was commissioned to design a fitting tribute for the CAM group and the memorial will be officially dedicated at 6.pm on the 7th July.
It will be as very fitting tribute to all those worked at Carnaby during WWII and also to acknowledge the contribution that the airfield made in ultimately saving thousands of lives.
Carnaby airfield was built towards the latter end of the war, becoming operational in 1944. It served as an emergency landing ground for battle-damaged bombers and also to aid bombers to land in all weather conditions – especially foggy weather.
An installation known as FIDO (Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation) was secretly installed on the airfield. This was a series of pipelines laid along the runway into which fuel was pumped. During foggy weather the fuel was set alight, creating sufficient heat to rise and burn a hole in the fog. This hole created a “window” in the fog and enabled bomber pilots to see the runway and make a safe landing.
Behind the Headlines
On the 9th April 1945, Halifax Mk.III bomber from 58 Squadron, skippered by F/Lt Lawson was sent on a bombing mission; their target was an enemy merchant ship situated just off the Norwegian coastline.
After bombing the ship, an on-board photoflash bomb exploded immediately under the aircraft, destroying the H2S navigation equipment and leaving a gaping 12-foot hole in the fuselage and badly damaging the aircraft.
Crew member Ft/Sgt Frank Smith was blown out of the hole and was presumed lost in action. The astro compass was then set and they headed back for sanctuary at RAF Carnaby.
They called up Carnaby when they reached the Yorkshire coast, but due to a fog-bound runway, were advised to go elsewhere. With fuel gauges showing zero, F/Lt Lawson had no choice. Carnaby relented and ordered FIDO to be turned on to aid a safe landing for the battled damaged bomber.
The Halifax approached the runway with no flaps and at an air speed of 140 knots. Flanked by rows of burning fuel, the Halifax slammed down in the middle of the 3,500-yard runway, braking hard. FIDO was immediately extinguished. The crew sat in darkness for a few moments until emergency assistance arrived.
On disembarking, they discovered the ‘missing’ crew member, Ft/Sgt Smith suspended alive beneath the aircraft. He had been miraculously saved by the D-ring on his parachute harness. He had spent over three hours dangling perilously under the aircraft whilst flying back to Carnaby over the cold North Sea. He was apparently still smiling when he was rescued.