The wartime air force bomber training base at Husbands Bosworth has been home to the highly-successful Gliding Centre for almost 60 years.
Now Peter Hill, the high-flying club’s honorary secretary, is putting out an emotive call to arms through the Harborough Mail as he launches his very own mission to track down people who recall the old airfield as the war with Hitler’s Nazi Germany raged.
“We are very keen to find and meet people who remember the old Husbands Bosworth airfield over the next few weeks and months.
“The brilliant base here goes back about 80 years to 1942 midway through the Second World War and during some of our country’s darkest days,” Peter told the Mail.
“We are very proud that we have so much outstanding history here in Husbands Bosworth – and we’d like to find out a whole lot more.
“The RAF’s number 14 and 85 Operational Training Units (OTUs) were based here at the old wartime station.
“We were also a satellite station to RAF Market Harborough.
“It’s incredible to think that many of the young lads who trained to become bomber crew here – some of them local – went on to fly deadly bombing missions over Germany,” said Peter, of Lutterworth.
“And tragically some of those brave young men won’t have come back, they won’t have made it because those sorties were so dangerous.
“It sends a shiver up and down my spine now as I look across at our old control tower that stood here when that noble generation were fighting the war so many decades ago.
“Quite a few were killed and injured in training accidents here before they even got the chance to join active service frontline units,” added Peter, who’s been at the Gliding Centre for 12 years.
“They were terrible times.
“And we would like to create a new memorial marker here at Husbands Bosworth to pay tribute to their immense courage and huge sacrifice.”
He told how the intriguing new quest to trace and talk to people who have any links to the wartime bomber base took off.
“One of my colleagues here was showing our memorable picture of the Wellington bomber crew here to someone in Lutterworth.
“They said that their grandfather, certainly a close relative, was one of the flyers,” said Peter.
“Unfortunately, their contact details have gone missing.
“And that got us thinking.
“There are bound to be people out there, many of them still living here in Harborough, who have golden memories of the old airfield and whose loved ones served here.
“So we are appealing to them to get in touch with us so that we can record their thoughts and help put together some sort of history.”
The high-octane RAF training station at Husbands Bosworth was shut down after the Second World War ended in August 1945.
And the buildings at the sprawling rural site were then used to accommodate displaced Polish people between 1948 and 1955.
“It was known as the Sulby camp in those post-war years.
“The Polish people had bravely fought for us against Nazi Germany during the war,” said Peter.
“They became refugees in Britain after Poland fell under the influence of Stalin’s Soviet Union when the country was liberated from the Germans.
“We’d also very much like to hear from any of those Polish people or local residents who remember them in Husbands Bosworth.
“The Gliding Centre operates from what’s left of the historic airfield after opening up here in the early 1960s.
“We are aiming to erect a poignant new memorial at the site as soon as we can.
“So if you know any of the Wellington bomber crewmen in our picture or whose family served as aircrew here we would love to hear from you,” said Peter.