This is the story behind the new Carnaby Airfield Memorial

The new Carnaby Airfield Memorial, which recognises the role the village played in the World War Two effort, will be officially opened next month.

By John Edwards
Thursday, 20th June 2019, 4:18 pm
The new memorial near Church Lane.

The striking new landmark has been put in place next to the main road through the village and has drawn many positive comments from those who have driven past.

The organisation was formed in January 2014 by a group of local residents to raise funds and awareness of the role that Carnaby Airfield played during the war.

Their aim was to raise sufficient funds to create a befitting memorial to all those who worked, served and landed at the airfield during the conflict.

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CAM officially obtained charity status in April 2015, and since then,it has raised over £50,000.

Talented artist Stephen Carvill, the man behind Bridlington’s Gansey Girl sculpture and the installation of cardboard soldiers at the Priory, was commissioned to design the memorial. It depicts an historical scene that happened at Carnaby in April 1945.

In April 1945, a Halifax III bomber from No 58 Squadron, skippered by Flt Lt Lawson, was damaged after a bombing mission off the Norwegian coastline.

Crew member Sgt Frank Smith fell through a 12-foot hole in the fuselage and was presumed missing.

The bomber headed for RAF Carnaby but due to a fog-bound runway was advised to go elsewhere. With fuel gauges on zero, Flt Lt Lawson had no choice, Carnaby then relented and ordered FIDO to be turned on to aid a safe landing for the battle-damaged bomber.

A secret installation known as FIDO (Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation) was installed on the airfield. FIDO was a series of pipelines along the runway into which fuel was pumped.

During foggy weather, the fuel was set alight, creating sufficient heat to burn a hole in the fog. This hole created a ‘window in the fog enabling bomber pilots to see the runway and make a safe landing.

The Halifax approached the runway with no flaps and at a speed of 140 knots.

Upon disembarking, they discovered their missing crew member, Sgt Smith, suspended beneath the aircraft, saved by the D-ring on his parachute harness.

He had spent over three hours dangling perilously under the aircraft whilst flying back over the cold North Sea.

The memorial will be officially opened on July 7, and will acknowledge the contribution that the airfield made in saving thousands of lives.