Formby civic group hopeful of securing memorial status for Woodvale plaque

A special plaque honouring war heroes who were based at Woodvale air base could soon become an official war memorial, local historical groups hope.

Members of the Formby Civic Society are keen to secure special war memorial status for the plaque which is currently found near to RAF Woodvale at the Freshfield Dune Heath Nature Reserve.

Local historian Dr. Reg Yorke, of the Formby Civic Society, was instrumental in getting together members of the society, the RAF and the Widlife Trust to secure the plaque – which has been dubbed the RAF Woodvale Historical Interpretive Panel

The Panel bears the wording: ‘Lest we forget’:- “In memory of all airmen and aircrew killed on service at RAF Woodvale during the Second World War.”

It also shows their names, rank and squadron.

RAF Woodvale was designed as an allweather fighter airfield for the defence of Merseyside. The decision was made in early 1941 but It was completed too late for the 1940-41 Blitz on Merseyside.

However the base provided strong support for the defence of the entire region until the end of WWII.

A spokesperson for Formby Civic Society said: “Previously, the site had been partly a large private Golf Club as well as a good amount of farmland adjacent to the new By-Pass; indeed, much farmland on the other side of the new road was requisitioned also to provide space for the accommodation of 2000 personnel.

“It was opened officially on December 7, 1941 and became operational when a Polish squadron arrived from RAF Northwich with six Spitfires.

“Flying began on 15 December 1941. In 1943, No.222 (Dutch) Squadron’s Spitfires added to the Polish squadrons already based at  Woodvale.

“Night protection was undertaken by Beaufighters and Mosquitos, and Woodvale became Sector Control Station for the North West, controlling all operational flying, especially enemy aircraft interceptions.

“Second line units also operated from Woodvale , flying a variety of types of aircraft used for calibration; some of this work was undertaken with the Royal Navy gunnery training range at HMS Queen Charlotte on the beach at Ainsdale.

“Woodvale was used regularly by American aircraft bringing personnel for rest and recuperation at Southport.

“In October 1944 a B-24 crashed on landing, killing 7 of the twenty occupants.

“After the War, Woodvale housed auxiliary and training units; this is a task that continues today.

“The very last Spitfires to fly routine duty in active military markings retired from here in June 1957.

“In January 1958, No.5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-Operation Unit moved in and operated Meteors until September 1971.

“The airfield today is surrounded by Freshfield Dune Heath, the largest lowland heath site in Lancashire.

“Formby Civic Society is grateful for the work and commitment of Dr. Reg Yorke in bringing this Interpretive Panel to fruition.

“This was achieved when Reg was also leading the FCS efforts to develop our programme of introducing a number of Blue Plaques to the Formby Community.”

A bid has now being made to seek permission for the plaque to be given historical war memorial status.

Blind Formby veteran Roy finally honoured for helping liberate France during WW2

A blind veteran from Formby has been finally honoured for his part in helping rid France of Nazi occupation.

92-year-old Roy Stinton was this week formally presented with the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur for his part in the liberation of Europe during World War II.

The ceremony was organised by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, from whom Roy receives support.

A proud Roy was presented with the prestigious honour in front of his friends and family in Llandudno.

Roy said: “I feel very privileged to have received this fantastic award. I would like to extend my thanks to the French government for recognising the part that I, and so many others – many of whom are sadly no longer with us – played in helping to liberate their great nation.

“I joined the Royal Navy in 1943.  I told them that I’d like to be a gunner, like my brother, but they said I was too good for that!

“They told me they had some new anti-submarine detection technology being installed in HMS Stalker, the ship on which I eventually served.

“Even the Americans didn’t have it. In fact it was so sensitive we were told not to wear our badges while off-duty for fear of being interrogated.

“I took part in the landings in the South of France, as well as Rangoon.

“During D-Day we were in a rest camp in the Atlas Mountains. It was an extremely tough time for my family as my brother was on a ship that came in from Gibraltar.

“Unfortunately, they told me I wasn’t allowed to see him, or indeed anyone at all. It was very hard indeed.

“Later I was transferred to the Far East where I was on minesweeping duties.

“I was in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just six months after the atomic bombs were dropped.”

Despite the many horrors and atrocities Roy witnessed, he still maintains several positive memories of his time in service.

“He explained: “I look back on the war with good and bad feelings.

“Being in Hiroshima on my 19th birthday, seeing the devastation that had taken place, it’s the kind of thing you’re desperate to forget immediately. It’s one of the most harrowing things you’ll ever see.

“That being said, we had some good times and I met some great mates. But even then, there are times when you don’t think you’re ever going to come home. It’s a surreal thought and impossible to describe.”

After marrying his childhood sweetheart, Joyce, in 1948, Roy set up his own fuchsia business in 1950. He recalls: “It started off slowly but progressed well. I had a good name for quality, not necessarily quantity. There were so many new gardening centres opening up all over the country, and they were looking for something different.”

Unfortunately for Roy, his eyesight has long been a troubling factor in his life, though he admits it wasn’t until six or seven years ago that it began to severely impact his day to day capabilities.

He says: “It all began in earnest around six or seven years ago. I already had age related macular degeneration, so it was gradual, but still very tough.

“I can’t read anything, but I can see people walking towards me, and from about two or three paces away I can recognise them.

“It was my hospital radiologist who initially suggested Blind Veterans UK to me, and thank goodness they did. We’ve been to the charity’s Llandudno centre and absolutely loved it.

“The staff were wonderful, they couldn’t do enough for you. I just couldn’t believe there were people like that in the world. I’m proud to be part of the charity.”

Roy said: “The helpfulness of the staff at the charity’s centres is superb. I hope that anyone who’s entitled to their fantastic support is able to make use of it and discover that they do not have to battle blindness alone.”

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more information about the work of Blind Veterans click here.


Sefton MBC award Freedom of the Borough to Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment

Sefton Council recently awarded the freedom of the borough to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment at Bootle Town Hall. The Regiment paraded through the streets of Bootle with colours flying, bands playing, drums beating and bayonets fixed.

The parade was followed by a civic reception where the close bond between Sefton Council and the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment was celebrated. The occasion gave Sefton the opportunity to show their gratitude to the services past and present of the Regiment.

Source: MySefton

Medals and recognition for Maghull Squadron Air Cadets

Five members of staff at 2348 (Maghull) Squadron Air Cadets have been recognized for their hard work within the organization recently and have been awarded medals.

Flt Lt Taylor, Flt Lt Mulally, Fg Off Cave, Fg Off Tomlinson and AWO Manning were all presented with their service medals on the units annual presentation evening held at The Maghull British Legion on May 12.

After 12 years of service, Flt Lt Jaqueline Mullaly was awarded her Cadet Forces Medal whilst Fg Off Simon Cave and AWO Nick Manning were awarded their first clasp for a further six years service.

Finally, Fg Off James Tomlinson and Commanding Officer, Flt Lt Ian Taylor were awarded their second clasp, in recognition of a further 12 years service, a total of 24 years service each.

Katie Dabrowski Thomas from the HQ 2348 (Maghull) Squadron said: “It is very rare that a squadron is awarded one medal, let alone five, and it really shows the commitment of our staff and their passion for our service.

“Maghull Squadron has been one of the best units on Merseyside wing for many years and with these presentations, it isn’t hard to see why.”

Maghull Squadron parade on a Monday and Friday from 7pm until 10pm. To request an Information Pack or to register for the Recruitment Evening call 0151 520 2348 during the mentioned opening hours, email or find them on Facebook as 2348 (Maghull) Sqn.